Eldercare and Caregivers: Building a Basic Collection

By McCallips, Cheryl | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Eldercare and Caregivers: Building a Basic Collection


McCallips, Cheryl, Reference & User Services Quarterly


As a business librarian, I have been asked to find data on the economic costs of eldercare responsibilities in terms of lost productivity. I have also helped patrons find examples of workplace programs, ranging from flextime to job sharing, that have been implemented by companies to help reduce this cost. There is no question that the responsibility for eldercare impacts the bottom line. It has been estimated that lost productivity from employees caring for an aging relative costs American businesses $11 billion annually, and in addition, more than 10 percent of working caregivers give up their jobs because of their caregiving responsibilities. (1) This conflict between work and caregiving responsibilities will only become more prevalent with the aging of the population and the corresponding burgeoning responsibility for eldercare. It is interesting to note that this is not just a problem for American workers and employers. One in ten Canadians between the ages of forty-five and sixty-four is simultaneously caring for a child and an aging parent; 83 percent of these caregivers are employed. (2) Eldercare is positioned to become a global issue with the worldwide aging of the population. Business Week coined this demographic trend "the geezer glut" and proclaimed "the graying of the baby-boom generation" as "one of the greatest sociological shifts in history." (3) This article focused on the economic consequences of this demographic change and noted that "[f]rom Stockholm to Santiago, policymakers are seeking to boost private savings in stocks and bond funds" and to "find cheaper ways to provide eldercare." (4)

Eldercare is not just an academic topic for management, public policy, and health-care courses. This is a topic that will impact virtually everyone at some point in their lives. Consequently, most academic and public libraries will need to build at least a basic collection of resources on eldercare. This guest-authored column will help RUSQ readers accomplish that task. Additionally, many RUSA members are actively involved in the provision of library services to senior citizens and their families, and RUSA's Library Service to Aging Population Committee played an integral role in drafting recommendations regarding library service to this population for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

This guest author has personally experienced the challenges of caring for elderly parents. Ms. McCallips has used this experience to sort through the myriad issues relating to eldercare and to identify some of the best core resources on each of these aspects of caregiving. Like many caregivers, she juggles family, caregiving, and work responsibilities. Since 2001, she has served as a library assistant in the Schreyer Business Library at Penn State University's main campus. She provides reference service, delivers course-related instruction, maintains the serials collection, and is responsible for the maintenance of departmental Web pages. Previously, she worked in school and public libraries. She completed a master's degree in library science from the Clarion University of Pennsylvania and is in the process of searching for her first post-MLS position. She has a forthcoming article on advertising Web sites scheduled for publication in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, and she looks forward to active participation in RUSA.--Editor

"Each November, as Americans reflect on our many blessings, we observe National Family Caregivers Month and give thanks for the selfless service of family caregivers on behalf of their loved ones in need. The tireless devotion of these Americans brings comfort and peace of mind to our Nation's elderly and to those who are chronically ill or disabled." (5) So begins President Bush's proclamation recognizing the 2005 National Family Caregivers Month. However, caregivers need more than thanks. They need resources to help them care for the ones they love and to care for themselves. …

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