Number of the day: caregiving-associated depression

64: Percentage of caregivers who say they feel depressed due to the stresses of caregiving

More than six in 10 respondents report feeling depressed due to the stresses of caregiving, according to a survey of 600 caregivers by Carewell. The percentage rises to 68% for those ages 18 to 34, and to 72% for women caring for parents. The survey also finds that more than half of respondents report that caregiving is their full-time job. For those also working outside the home, 70% report missing work as a result of caregiving, and nearly a quarter (22%) miss more than 20 workdays a year.

What it means to HR leaders

Caregiving was already a significant challenge for employees—and employers—but the COVID-19 pandemic is only exacerbating those issues. The closure of many schools, daycares and summer camps—and concerns over safety—is making balancing home and work life especially difficult for working parents. Meanwhile, employees caring for elderly relatives or others are facing access challenges as well.

“The coronavirus pandemic has forced aging adults and their families to reconsider assisted living facilities and instead offer safer in-home care,” says Bianca Padilla, CEO and co-founder of Carewell. “Caregiving is an act of selflessness and patience, but it comes with immense responsibility and pressure—impacting caregivers’ health, finances and relationships. As a result, our research shows that caregivers are consistently forced to choose between the welfare of their care recipient or their own wellbeing, oftentimes neglecting themselves.”

Experts say employers and HR leaders would be well-served to take the lead on caregiving assistance and aim to reduce the stresses facing caregiving employees. That’s because caregiving responsibilities can result in billions of dollars in lost productivity and increased healthcare costs caused by caregiver stress.

Related: How COVID-19 is aggravating the caregiving crisis

Providing flexibility and paid time off and offering caregiving benefits—like resources or access to backup care, for instance—all can help.

Larry Nisenson

“It’s a good time to take a hard look at existing policies and employer benefits surrounding caregiving, which is one part of a larger question that, in the wake of this unprecedented health and economic crisis, all employers should ask themselves: Are you adequately accommodating your employees’ needs during this new normal?” Larry Nisenson, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for insurance firm Genworth, recently told HRE.

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