Although it ranks among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t often get the attention it deserves.
As a part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we’re exploring why and how your workplace wellness program can better address Alzheimer’s disease.
Addressing Alzheimer’s Disease in Your Workplace Wellness Program
One of the misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease is that it really only affects the elderly. In reality, Alzheimer’s has an impact on not just the person experiencing symptoms, but also on their loved ones, especially if a loved one is acting as caretaker for the Alzheimer’s patient.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost 62 million Americans care for another adult part-time, and even those who turn to paid caregivers spend 24 hours weekly on average providing care themselves. And the numbers are only increasing: the need for informal Alzheimer’s caregivers, including relatives, neighbors, and friends, is projected to rise more than 20% over 15 years and 85% over 40 years as baby boomers age.
The Cost of Alzheimer’s Care
Alzheimer’s caregivers are often under a lot of stress due to the physical and emotional demands. It’s a time-consuming, often thankless job, and it has real impact on full- or part-time employees. Just consider these numbers:
- 2/3 of Alzheimer’s caregivers missed work due to their caregiving.
- 14% retired or quit working altogether.
- 13% lowered work hours or switched to a less demanding career.
- 8% turned down a promotion.
- 7% lost job benefits.
And the cost of caretaking for US businesses is high, too — over $33 billion annually is spent on replacing employees who leave to provide Alzheimer’s care, handling absenteeism from Alzheimer’s caretakers, and more.
Supporting Employees Who Provide Alzheimer’s Care
As an employer, you can do your part to support your workers who provide care to relatives with Alzheimer’s. Focus on creating an environment that promotes a healthy work-life balance, including flexibility for those who need to take personal days or leave to care for an ailing relative, like someone with Alzheimer’s. Make it known to your employees that they can speak with a supervisor when they need to take time off to provide Alzheimer’s care.
In addition, you can provide access to mental health professionals and Alzheimer’s experts who can not only help your employees learn more about effective caretaking, but also address any stress they might feel as they deal with their loved one’s Alzheimer’s.
You can also partner with Test Smartly Labs to create an employee wellness program that addresses stress management and also provides key health screenings to help Alzheimer’s caretakers monitor their own health for warning signs or risk factors that can contribute to Alzheimer’s, including high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. To get started on your program today, locate your nearest Test Smartly Labs!