Caring for an elderly friend, parent, relative, or neighbor is becoming more pervasive, especially in states like New York where the population is older than the national average.
State officials on Monday highlighted efforts to highlight the needs of unpaid caregivers and the increasing challenges they face, particularly in the workplace.
The state released a 32-year paid guide for employers to help them support working caregivers. At the same time, the Hochul government released a survey asking government officials to share their experiences of balancing work and care needs.
Private employers are also encouraged to consult their employees on this issue.
First results of the survey of government employees show that more than half of the respondents care for at least one person; More than a third supports a person at least 22 hours a week or more.
“In addition to historic investments to expand our long-term care workforce, I am pleased to give back to the more than four million unpaid caregivers who have already dedicated their time and energy to caring for loved ones,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “By recognizing this work for the valuable and critical care it is, individuals can better connect with the many state and local resources and supports specifically tailored to meet their needs.”
Caring has been spotlighted in part by the so-called “sandwich generation” of aging parents and their middle-aged children who must balance work, family life and the needs of caring for an elderly loved one.
State officials estimate that more than four million nurses in New York perform unpaid work for someone suffering from a chronic illness or facing a medical challenge. This may include escorting you to a doctor’s appointment, helping you bathe or dress, and helping you shop or prepare meals.
It can also include simpler tasks like mowing the lawn or shoveling snow.
AARP projects delivered by nurses in New York would cost about $32 billion a year. Businesses across the country lose about $33.6 billion annually in caregiver-related revenue or absenteeism, as well as lost productivity, Hochul’s office said.
This can result in workers forgoing promotions or reducing their hours to part-time. Nationally, about one in six workers in the United States is a caregiver for a relative or friend who provides some form of care more than 20 hours a week.
“For many New Yorkers, leaving your job is far from the end of your working day,” said Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “When these New Yorkers come home, they continue to care for a loved one without pay.
New York offers a number of support options for caregivers, including a paid family leave program and paid sick leave laws.
The AARP has called for more, including creating a tax credit to benefit caregivers in New York. It would provide a credit of up to $3,500 or half of eligible expenses for singles with a gross income of $75,000 or less or couples with an income of $150,000 or less.