Monday, November 17, 2014

Employers start to offer elder-care benefits, out of enlightened self-interest

The Washington Post leads off its Metro section Monday morning with an important story by Brigid Schulte about eldercare, “As population ages, balancing jobs and parents”.  Online the title is more specific: “Aging population prompts more employers to offer elder-care benefits to workers,” link here. The story was findable by Google but not within the search box of the Post’s own site early Monday; this often happens.
The demographics drive the self-interest of employers, as a MetLife survey reported in the story indicates.  In 1999, my mother was offered coronary bypass surgery at age 85.  At the time, this was almost unheard of;  now it would be common.  There was a concern briefly that it might not be offered unless I got my employer to move me back to Arlington, but I had moved to Minneapolis to avoid a “conflict of interest”.  Fortunately, this did not happen.  My mother spent two weeks with a bad experience in a skilled nursing facility, where an employee did not respect the order that she was not supposed to raise her arms while the staples healed.  This could have caused a catastrophe, although it did not and everything finally turned out well.  She would live until the end of 2010.

In 1999, of course, there were no eldercare benefits, and the demographics were not known well enough to provide employers an incentive.  Today, medicine can keep parents alive longer in extreme disability, especially dementia and Allzheimer’s. 
Unpaid family leave up to 12 weeks was possible in 1999, however, according to the early Clinton-era FNLA of 1993.  I would have had to “sacrifice” paid vacation first however.  I remember a coworker in Minneapolis saying to me, “But Bill, she’s your mother.”  This situation is taxing in unusual ways for those who did NOT have their own children.  (In fact, the coworker said, “Your mother didn’t have enough children.”  Tacky.  She couldn’t.  Although my parents at one time considered adopting a sister for me.) 
I found a video on eldercare benefits in Canada, but there isn’t much on YouTube on employer benefits yet. 

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