More than 1 in 8 Americans act as unpaid caregiver for someone aged 50 or older. In 2015, there were 844,000 reported informal caregivers in Massachusetts out of a total population of 6.7 million. Informal caregivers cross all generations -- Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers -- and many are now part of the “sandwich generation” caring for a younger child and older adult at the same time.
Supporting family caregivers, specifically unpaid family or informal caregivers, is a focus of MeHI’s Aging and Caregiving Initiative. With the shifting demographics in the nation and within Massachusetts, challenges specific to the aging population and those who are, or will be, caregivers are increasing.
Massachusetts Caregiver Coalition
For information or to join the Coalition, please visit www.maroundtable.com/caregiving.html.
In collaboration with leaders from business, health care, education and state government, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable recently launched the Massachusetts Caregiver Coalition, an initiative to assess and address the needs of unpaid family caregivers across the Commonwealth. The launch marked the release of a Massachusetts Caregiver Survey and an Employer Toolkit to support working caregivers. The toolkit is designed to inspire employers to invest in working caregivers and lays out actions they can take to better support their employees. The toolkit includes brief employee questionnaires, state resources, and case studies, including examples of how companies like EMD Serono have invested in their workforce. The Embracing Carers™ survey queried 420 family caregivers in Massachusetts and evidenced the significant self-care, health care, career and support needs of those caregivers, specifically:
• Self-Care: 68% of family caregivers surveyed in Massachusetts find it difficult to sleep on a regular basis.
• Healthcare: 58% of family caregivers surveyed in Massachusetts feel that their physical health has suffered due to their caregiving role.
• Career: 27% of family caregivers surveyed in Massachusetts feel their career has been negatively affected by their role as a caregiver (ages 26-34)
• Support: 84% of family caregivers surveyed in Massachusetts say it would be helpful if a friend, neighbor or family member was to offer them support in their caring role.
The Cost of Caregiving to Massachusetts Employers
Employers: Aging and Caregiving in the Workplace
The prevalence of informal caregivers in the workforce is increasing, and with the shift in the demographics of the nation, that number will only continue to increase. The cost of caregiving employees to their employers can present itself in many areas, including increased turnover, absenteeism, and presenteeism. MeHI collaborated with the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) to conduct research on the cost of caregiving to Massachusetts employers. The following brief provides information on the estimated economic impact of caregiving on employers in Massachusetts.
Support for Caregivers
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs' (EOEA) Family Caregivers Support Program provides information and resources to help you care for a loved one. In addition to eligibility information for the Family Caregiver Support Program, there is helpful information for employers and caregivers in the workplace, caregivers of those living with dementia, and grandparents who are caregivers to grandchildren. They also offer a wide range of resources for caregivers, such as caregiver training programs.
2017 Caregivers and Digital Health Report
Sponsored by MeHI and conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, this report identifies key challenges faced by Massachusetts family caregivers and offers insight to help entrepreneurs develop solutions to address those challenges.
Resources for Employers
ReACT is an employer-focused coalition dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by employee caregivers and reducing the impact on the companies that employ them. ReACT represents nearly one million employees through its membership of more than 30 companies and non-profit organizations. Visit their website to learn more. Some specific ReACT resources to highlight are:
- Employer Resource Guide: Four steps for supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities
- Supporting Working Caregivers: Case Studies of Promising Practices
Torchlight is a caregiver-support program for employers and health plans that provides real-time access to the strategies and solutions modern caregivers need most. At the end of 2018, Torchlight released its first annual report that identifies working caregivers' most pressing needs. Their findings are based on their caregiver decision-support platform's user data collected over nearly three years. View a summary of the report or view the full report, Modern Caregiving Challenges Facing U.S. Employees.
Activities and Events
Many digital health entrepreneurs in Massachusetts are working on developing aging solutions. Many providers, both organizations and individuals, who serve older adults with complex care needs are looking for technology that can help alleviate some of the burden of caregiving. To ensure that technology innovations are solving real world problems, there needs to be tangible ways for innovators and consumers to connect. Started in 2017, MeHI and Aging2.0 Boston host an annual Aging and Caregiving Digital Health Reverse Pitches event. At this event, key players in the aging services sector discuss what they see as pressing problems in caregiving and the opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators.
Read the 2018 Reverse Pitch event recap in which 90 entrepreneurs, students, and executives in the aging space explored the use of innovative tech solutions to support healthy aging and caregiving.
To view recordings from the 2017 Reverse Pitch, view MeHI’s vimeo profile. These include basic recordings of the pitches from Phillips Home Monitoring, Benchmark Senior Living, LifeCare Advocates, Boston Senior Home Care, and Deaconess Abundant Life Communities.
To see upcoming events, many focused on digital health, view the MeHI calendar.