Caregiving Costs U.S. Business $29 Billion

Article excerpt

Workers caring for elderly relatives cost their employers as much as $29 billion a year in lost productivity, an expense likely to grow as the population ages, researchers warned Wednesday.

The 14.4 million people who juggle jobs to care for the elderly often are late to work, leave early, or take long lunches to carry out their responsibilities. Ten percent ultimately quit their jobs, said a study based on the first national survey of caregivers in a decade.

The study by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. was based on a national survey of caregivers carried out by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association of Retired Persons. "We found that two out of three caregivers are employed and half said caregiving has an impact on their work," said Joyce Ruddock, a gerontologist and vice president of the MetLife Mature Market Group. She noted that the costs associated with caregiving will rise dramatically as the population continues to age. The nation's 76 million baby boomers will begin turning 65 in 2011, the Census Bureau said. "Businesses who turn their backs on family caregivers will pay a tremendous price," said Ruddock, who helped present the research to the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging on Tuesday. Some companies are beginning to wake up to the need. …