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More using employee benefits to care for multiple generations

Employee Benefits
by Rita Tansen and Heather Robinson
More using employee benefits to care for multiple generations
More using employee benefits to care for multiple generations

Many workers in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s now find themselves financially responsible for far more than just themselves. Consequently, these individuals are using their employee benefits to help cover costs for their grown children, elderly parents, or both.

As noted by Employee Benefit News (EBN), members of this age group, which experts have dubbed the "Sandwich Generation," are now picking up the financial burden of caring for multiple generations of their families. The tough economy has forced many young adults to move back home with their parents, while many seniors are now relying on their children to cover concerns like healthcare and housing costs, among others.

In all, estimates show that there are as many as 66 million members of the Sandwich Generation, and that the average such worker is a 48-year-old woman who spends about 20 hours a week caring for at least one living parent.

Recent data from the Pew Research Center suggests that about half of all people in their 40s and 50s have at least one living parent, as well as a child - whether grown or still young - they have to support. As a result, many workers are now tapping their employers' benefits for a broader range of services, including senior care planning, the report said.

Bright Horizons, a provider of child and elder care, found that among workers who used its emergency backup service to care for a child, seven in 10 workers utilized it on days that they would have otherwise had to skip work. In all, it saw workers use this service about 800,000 times last year, and of those, roughly one in eight was related to care for an elderly person.

EBN stated this kind of service may likewise be a boon to employers. The service allows workers to come in when they otherwise might not have been able to in the past. For this reason, employers who want to provide more comprehensive benefits to their employees while also seeing a significant benefit on their own end might want to look into whether these care options can be helpful to everyone involved.

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