Workers want help with care of elderly

Employees trying to balance office-related work with caring for elderly family members seek help from their employers on a number of fronts - primarily in gathering information about programs and benefits.

That's according to a new survey conducted by the National Council on the Aging, sponsored by AT&T, and based on feedback from 1,300 AT&T employees who were identified as providers of such care. Two-thirds of the respondents were women. The following types of assistance were called most valuable by respondents.

Locating programs and benefits 69%

Monitoring those programs 64%

Transportation arrangements 60%

Shopping 58%

Help with insurance and legal forms came in at 51 percent and 49 percent, respectively. About a third of respondents desired assistance with such basic needs as bathing and dressing those in their care.

In focus groups conducted along with the survey, employees said they wanted clear corporate policies, more flexibility - and "a single phone number" as a starting place to help them coordinate care.

Some 11.5 million Americans of all ages need some type of long-term care, according to ElderCare Advocates, a consultancy in Toledo, Ohio. Individuals often foot the bill. But companies take a hit: A 1997 survey sponsored by the AARP and Metropolitan Life found productivity lost from such care cost US employers more than $29 billion a year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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