ARTICLE | DEFINING CAREGIVER SUPPORT

The Different Types of Caregivers in Your Workforce:

Understanding Their Needs and Providing Support

Key Takeaways:

  • Each caregiver has a unique situation and need. Understanding these differences is crucial for employers to provide the right kind of support to their employees.
  • Caregivers can experience a wide range of challenges, from emotional stress to financial and legal responsibilities. They require different types of support depending on their loved one’s condition.
  • Offering the right kind of support can make all the difference in helping caregivers achieve a sustainable balance between work, life, and care.

Each caregiving journey is unique– no two situations are exactly the same. As an employer, it’s crucial to acknowledge and understand the wide range of care situations your employees are facing, and the types of challenges each might bring.

 

For example, caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease is vastly different from caring for a child with a developmental disability. From emotional support from family and friends, respite care to prevent burnout, or financial assistance to cover the cost of medical bills– every type of caregiver requires different types of support depending on the condition or scenario they are facing.

 

Whatever these particular needs might be, it’s crucial that caregivers have access to resources and support systems, in order to provide high-quality care to their loved ones and achieve a sustainable balance between work, life, and care.

 

To better understand the scope of caregiving needs in your organization, below, we outline some of the most common caregiving journeys, and the type of support they most typically require.

1. Sandwich Generation caregivers

This is often the largest population of caregivers, due to the increasing number of baby boomers aging each day. In fact, 54% of Americans in their 40s have at least one living parent aged 65 or older, and they are either raising a child younger than 18 or have an adult child.

These caregivers face care challenges more frequently as they balance the needs of their elderly loved ones with those of their children. The juggle of work commitments and daily stresses can include everything from daily transportation needs to medical appointments, financial and legal tasks, Medicare paperwork, and so much more. When caring for an aging parent, it’s common to also face challenging family dynamics as more family members like siblings become involved in care decisions.

2. Passive caregivers


These caregivers provide support to a loved one who needs some support but does not require full-time care. The care tasks taken on by these caregivers can include check-ins to ensure their loved one is healthy and address any basic needs.

They may also assist with certain errands, such as grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions. These caregivers typically experience a more predictable care schedule but may deal with emotional stress knowing that this could change at any time, depending on their loved one’s condition and age. These tasks can still interfere with work schedules, and add financial and emotional stress to the caregiver.

3. Intensive caregivers

 

Intensive caregivers provide full-time, hands-on care to a loved one facing a chronic condition, terminal diagnosis, or lifelong disability. They provide on average, 24+ hours of care per week.

They are the frontline support to their loved one, often feeling pressure to be available at all times to provide whatever medical or personal care their loved one requires. The challenges these caregivers face are the most intense and frequent, ranging from constant emotional stress and burnout to a decline in their own physical health.

They are often financially and legally responsible for their loved one’s needs and affairs as well.

4. Soon-to-be caregivers

 

There is an often overlooked group of anticipatory caregivers, who are not currently providing regular or hands-on care, but know that is something they will likely have to take on in the future.

These caregivers are aware that they will soon be responsible for caring for a loved one, perhaps due to age or reoccurring illness, and they may be in the process of researching or planning for this responsibility.

5. Spousal caregivers

 

 

These folks are caring for a spouse or long-term partner facing a range of possible care conditions from chronic to terminal, or temporary recovery. Spousal caregivers are sometimes the sole breadwinner while their loved one is out of work, meaning they are juggling work alongside daily care tasks and shouldering the burden of financial stability while coping with the emotional stress of watching a partner in poor health.

If children are involved, spousal caregivers are also taking on the daily household and childcare responsibilities.

6. Parental caregivers

 

While typical childcare needs often fall into the “caregiving” definition, there are some scenarios where caring for a child goes beyond the typical experience. For many parents, caring for their child also involves medical and clinical tasks, extra hands-on care well into teenage or adult years, and extra financial and legal considerations. Caring for a child with extra needs can be a full-time job.

From regular doctor appointments, and therapy sessions to medical procedures and hands-on care (bathing, dressing, and eating). These parents also face additional financial and legal challenges. This could include paying for special equipment or services, navigating complex insurance policies, and advocating for their child’s rights in the education system.

7. Non-relative caregivers

 

 

In many cases, the caregiving dynamic is defined by the caregiver’s definition of “family”. This can be seen in situations where the care recipient is not an actual relative, but rather a friend or neighbor in need of care. In these cases, the caregiver has made the conscious decision to take on the care needs of this individual and provide them with the necessary support. These situations can quickly become complex and challenging due to obstacles in accessing medical information, managing legal tasks, etc.

8. Temporary caregivers

 

Some of the most common caregiving situations arise around a temporary need, when a family member is recovering from a short-term operation or an accident or injury. Although this type of caregiving is condensed within a defined timeline, it can be a demanding and intense journey. During this time, the caregiver may need to assist with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation. In addition, they may need to manage the medication schedule, coordinate doctor appointments, and provide emotional support to the recovering family member.

Depending on the recovery process, the caregiver needs to be prepared for any adjustments to their level of support accordingly. In these situations, the caregiver may need to adjust their work schedule or take time off from work entirely. They may also need to coordinate with other family members or seek outside assistance to ensure that the recovering family member’s needs are met.

Understanding the different types of caregivers in your workforce is crucial for supporting your employees with the resources they need, and ensuring they’re able to provide high-quality care without sacrificing their own mental or physical health, while remaining present and productive at work. Whether it’s financial assistance, emotional support, or flexible work arrangements, offering the right kind of support can make all the difference in helping caregivers achieve a sustainable balance between work, life, and care.

Ready to learn more about the types of caregivers in your organization and how you can support them with tangible resources? 

Learn more, or reach out to our team here.

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