The aging elephant in the room

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Changing demographics in Canada could soon have implications for workplaces, a long-term care consultant warns.

“Families will be pulled apart because kids will be forced to look after their parents when they have children of their own,” Karen Henderson told HRD Magazine.

“Then they might not have the money to help support their parents and there’s going to be huge stresses on families.”

After her own experiences, Henderson formed the Long Term Care Planning Network, which has grown to become one of Canada’s leading resource centers for aging and long-term care planning.

“Anyone who is a family caregiver is under huge stress when they’re at work.

“You’re using the phone, you’re researching, you’re trying to find answers, your stress levels are huge and you’re not productive.”

Employers who do not recognize this issue will see their employees between 50 and 65 losing tremendous productivity and losing their own health, she said.

“They’re going to be absent from work, they’re going to ask for leaves of absence, they’re going to quit and you know that it costs more to hire and retrain than it does to keep a current employee.”

So what can you do?

According to Pat Irwin, founder of ElderCareCanada, it’s important for employers to take action.

“I would suggest that an employer identifies who the carers are in the workplace,” she said
“Possibly set up a forum or focus group to find out the most stress elements and what would help them the most.”

Education also plays a vital role, she said.
“You might have an information day about childcare; that’s great. Education is great – but more and more we are going to need them about eldercare.”

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