The Human and Financial Toll for Working Caregivers: From the Desk of CEO Kevin Sypniewski

In our workplaces all around us, though sometimes unseen, caregivers are faced with the task of trying to balance work and children while caring for an adult friend or family member. We know there are only so many hours in a day to squeeze in work and all of life’s other responsibilities. The result is that personal health and well-being almost always fall by the wayside. In the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Mature Market Institute study referenced below, the health related problems and employer health costs are finally quantified.

Simply put, working caregivers are far more likely to drive up health costs than non-caregivers. Considering the demographics of our population, it will continue to present an increase cost for health plans and financial burden for corporate America.

Our team here at AGIS stands ready to help you address this issue proactively with your clients and prospects. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to the possibility of working with you.

Caregiving Employees’ Health Problems Can Cost U.S. Companies $13.4 Billion Yearly

Most employers are promoting “health and wellness” programs to contain their healthcare costs and to improve employee productivity. Diabetes maintenance programs, cardiac programs, weight loss programs and smoking cessation program are some of the more common. While struggling as an overburdened, depressed caregiver year over year, it is not very likely that an employee can or will participate meaningfully in one of these health and wellness programs.

AGIS’ employee surveys reveal that 44% of employees report being involved in a caregiving event either currently or recently. This is after they have received education making them aware of all the tasks included in ‘caregiving’. They just think they are “helping out” with their parents or family members. With caregiving having a 44% prevalence rate in the workplace, shouldn’t we do something to address the healthcare toll that caregiving takes on the workforce? As seen in the Caregiver Healthcosts study (www.maturemarketinstitute.com) caregiving significantly increases the rates of cholesterol problems, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, kidney disease and heart disease.

Proactively addressing caregiver awareness and education is critical to managing overall employee health costs and productivity losses. Remember that the number one problem with caregiving is that caregivers don’t self-identify. So without broad-based workplace education, caregivers will not recognize their plight, caregiving services will go under-utilized, and other health and wellness program will be ineffective for those caregivers dealing with the stress, depression and anxiety created by caregiving for years on end. AGIS would like to help you “care for the caregiver” first! It makes good business cents!

Metlife’s Mature Market Institute Study with the National Alliance for Caregiving, Bethesda, Md., and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Aging

What’s up with Grandma? – Dementia, Dehydration or Drugs: From the Desk of CEO Kevin Sypniewski

Recently, Elizabeth Cohen of CNN wrote an article about is “Grandma drugged up?” 

While the title was alarming, the reality was even more disturbing.  I sent this article to our team at AGIS. The response was shocking. I immediately heard back from three employees that have had this experience in their own family.  I got to thinking, if three people in our group have had this challenge, then what is the population as a whole experiencing? 

What’s frightening is so many of us don’t ask enough questions and many drug interactions go unidentified.  Simple things get misdiagnosed…dehydration can sometimes look like dementia. In the short time doctors spend with us, they can’t be expected to know what we know about our loved one’s situation.  Research, talk and ask questions.  Our loved ones’ lives might be at stake.  

Read the Article Here

Heads Up: Prevent Brain Injury

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month so “feed your head” and read about the causes of brain injury and what you can do to prevent them.

Serious risk for older adults: You don’t need to be a superhero to know that falls are the major cause of head injury in older adults. A common scenario – a senior loses balance and falls, resulting in a blow to the head. This type of injury is called a “concussion” or “traumatic brain injury” (TBI) and can range from mild to severe. Those 75 and older have the highest rates of TBI, recover more slowly and die more often from these injuries.

Caregiver alert: Statistically, most injuries will be mild and cause no permanent damage. But for those unlucky few, the results can be long lasting and require round-the-clock caregiving. More often in older adults, a simple spill can cause serious complications, like a blood clot on the brain. The senior may become confused or develop a severe headache, symptoms that may often be misdiagnosed.

Be aware – know the signs: If your senior has a head injury and develops any of these symptoms, call a doctor right away:

  • Headaches or neck pain that won’t go away
  • Trouble with mental tasks such as remembering, concentrating or decision-making
  • Slow thinking, speaking, acting or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Feeling tired all the time, having no energy or motivation
  • Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy, or losing balance
  • An urge to vomit (nausea)
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds or distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Ringing in the ears

Fall prevention checklist: No need to bury your head in the sand – the best way to protect you and the elders you know is to prevent falls from happening in the first place. Here are some simple things you can do today to avoid falls:

  • Use a step stool with a grab bar to reach objects on high shelves
  • Install handrails on stairways
  • Remove tripping hazards such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors
  • Put grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower
  • Maintain a regular exercise program (try Tai Chi) to improve strength, balance, and coordination
  • See an eye doctor regularly for a vision check – seniors often can’t see very well. Also provide better or more illumination like night lights, glow-in-the-dark light switches and bright light bulbs
  • The wrong prescription drugs may cause dizziness – have a pharmacist review them for any possible interactions or other problems

For further info on preventing head injuries and falls, check out our checklist for preventing falls.