Omaha, NE (Vocus) Judy Bergado of Roselle Park, N.J., is one example of the situations described in a recent "Caregiving in the U.S." survey. She's the primary family caregiver for her 88-year-old father. She also is a thousand miles away from her widowed and ailing dad, who lives alone in a single-family home in Florida.
Bergado is part of a growing group of working mothers and grandmothers who are also caring for the generation that raised them. And they need help with caregiving. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of family caregivers have been employed while they were assisting another person, according to a November 2009 report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Most (68 percent) have had to make a workplace accommodation due to caregiving. The most common workplace accommodations are going in late, leaving early or taking time off during the day.
Bergardo spent three weeks in Florida with her father when her mother died in November 2008. "My mom did everything," Bergado said. "And when she died, my father didn't know how to cook or make out bills. He didn't know where the checkbook was or how to fill it out."
The stress continued when she returned home. "He was lonely and I didn't know what to do about it."
It's not like she can just pick up and leave to help him. Bergado has her own family to care for and responsibilities outside the home. Her daughter and 13-year-old granddaughter, for whom she serves as a Girl Scout leader, live with her and her husband. She also has a demanding job working as a database administrator for a pharmaceutical company, where she's been employed for 10 years. "This puts a lot of stress on me," she noted.
So Bergardo found help from her employer, who hooked her up with an eldercare referral service that located a CAREGiver(SM) for her father from Home Instead Senior Care, the largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors. Her company paid for at least 16 visits as part of a work-life benefit. "At first Dad put up a fuss even though he kept complaining how lonely he was, and he wasn't cooking or eating," Bergado said.
Now her dad looks forward to the weekly visits from his CAREGiver. "She does some light cooking and he was thrilled when she made him Passover cake. She changes his sheets and he loves the way she folds clothes. She looks around the house to see if something needs to be dusted and cleaned; he really appreciates her and enjoys her coming." Even though the work-life benefit has run out, the Bergado family continues to pay for the service.
More and more companies like Bergado's are offering elder care benefits to their sandwich-generation employees. Thirty-nine percent of employers today provide access to information about services for elderly family members compared with 23 percent in 1998, according to a 2008 report by the Families and Work Institute.
The senior care industry is expanding as well and as a direct result of this trend. "Today's working family caregivers are stretched so thin," said Tim Connelly, director of Franchise Development for Home Instead, Inc., the franchisor for the Home Instead Senior Care network.
"Forty-three percent of respondents to a survey conducted for Home Instead Senior Care revealed that they are spending more than 30 hours a week caregiving," Connelly said. "For many, that's the equivalent of a full-time job, often on top of a regular job," he added.
"It's the kind of demands that these families face that are driving much of the growth in this industry. Home Instead Senior Care experienced a 50 percent growth in the number of start-ups in North America in 2009 over 2008," he noted.
Bergado said that extra support is especially good for her as a long-distance family caregiver. Her dad's CAREGiver serves as an extra set of eyes and ears since she's not there. "It's great because once a week I find out if everything is O.K."
Anyone thinking about starting a business can learn more about senior care business opportunities, by registering for the next one-hour Home Instead Senior Care Franchise Opportunities webinar, scheduled for September 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Or they can register for the 6 p.m. webinar also on September 15