This company benefit could save you thousands in caregiving expenses

Will your company pay for eldercare?

As you assist your elderly parent or in-law, you may not think about your employer as a resource. Instead you wonder if they are getting the most out of Medicare benefits and worry about their physical or cognitive decline. 

woman on phone looking worriedMany employers offer a benefit to support your caregiving efforts. In fact, a Bank of America survey found that while 88 percent of the surveyed employers offer some type of caregiving resources, 71 percent of workers are unaware of these offerings, and just 34 percent have taken advantage of them.

Caregiving in the spotlight

With the proposed American Family Plan offering paid family leave to care for an older adult and the outcry over women caregivers leaving the workplace, employers are in the hotseat to offer more caregiving benefits. If your company does offer eldercare benefits, they likely exist within one of five different areas. If they don’t, now is the time to politely ask your human resources contact to consider adding an eldercare benefit. 

A sibling or their partner can also qualify for an eldercare company benefit to provide assistance. Asking them to check into their company benefit can be a good way to get siblings involved.

Five places to look for it

An eldercare benefit may fall into several areas within a company:

  • Adult care
    Like a child daycare benefit, some employers cover backup in-home care or adult daycare.
  • Employee Assistance Program
    The EAP may provide eldercare navigation resources to help you find in-home care, pay for care, determine which legal documents you need and more.
  • Employee Resource Group
    Some large companies offer an Employee Resource Group (ERG) supporting employees caring for an older adult. Employees experiencing similar eldercare challenges may meet regularly to share resources and support.
  • Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account
    Using pre-tax dollars to private pay for eldercare expenses, can save you 20% or more depending on your tax bracket. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, “While the benefit is most often used to pay for child day care, elder care also is eligible for reimbursement with a DCFSA if the adult lives with the account holder at least eight hours of the day and is claimed as a dependent on the account holder’s federal tax return.”
  • Family Leave
    Some companies offer a leave of absence that is paid, unpaid or a combination of the two so that you can attend to your loved one’s needs for an extended period of time. This can be especially useful during intense times of transition from hospital to rehab to another living situation. 

    Email your HR department

    Within larger companies, it can be difficult to find what benefits exist and how to access them. Copy and paste this message into an email and send to your human resources department:

    To Human Resources:
    Does our company offer any kind of eldercare benefit?
    Do we have an eldercare Employee Resource Group?
    What is our family leave policy as it relates to caring for an older adult?
    As I look forward, this benefit would be helpful.
    If we are considering a caregiver benefit, Ways & Wane solves eldercare challenges for busy professionals. I’d like to work with them. Will you reimburse employees for that expense?

    Your employer values your focused contributions; offering caregiver benefits allows you to do your best work and creates a high return on investment for your employer.

    Debbie McDonald is founder of the iCareToo movement and CEO of Ways & Wane, a benefit that solves eldercare challenges for busy professionals.