By Teresa Rochester
Thursday, June 12, 2014
As the senior population continues to grow, so, too, will the number of adults taking on the role of caregivers, which costs employers $17.1 billion annually and some caregivers their health.
How to tackle the growing problem will be the subject of an invitation-only summit Monday in Agoura Hills hosted by Senior Concerns and the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“Responding to the Caregiving Crisis” will bring together the mayors and city managers of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, along with representatives from businesses and health care systems, such as UCLA, Kaiser Permanente and Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center.
Andrea Gallagher, president of Senior Concerns, said the goal of the brainstorming session is to “gain a level of commitment, to say, ‘Yes, let’s continue the conversation. Let’s take a stand on this.’ We have a disproportionate amount of seniors in this community.”
The private, nonprofit organization is one of two support centers in Ventura County that help family caregivers with health, stress and support group referrals. Using a mobile caregiver support center, Senior Concerns officials go to places like churches and grocery stores to find caregivers, who often do not identify themselves as such.
Gallagher can list a surprising number of statistics about the toll caregiving can take on those tasked with aiding ill, elderly family members. Caregivers are usually relatives, and the stress of taking care of an individual while working and caring for their own families can result in chronic ailments.
A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and National Alliance for Caregiving found 50 percent of respondents reported eight additional visits a year to heath care providers for themselves because of their responsibilities.
The percentage of adult children providing personal care or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years, the Society of Human Resource Management found.
The amount of hours caregivers work at their jobs tends to decrease, while some quit or retire early. Productivity is also lost, with working caregivers taking time off for caregiving duties, arriving late or leaving early.
Jill Lederer, president and CEO of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the issue affects every business.
“All businesses want to be sensitive to what their team members are going through,” she said, adding that education and awareness are important.
For more information on Senior Concerns, visit https://www.seniorconcerns.org . For more information on the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, visit http://www.conejochamber.org .
By Teresa Rochester