A question many of your employees will face is: Will Mom or Dad be okay living at home by themselves?

For most families, there comes a time when they must decide whether their aging parent(s) can live alone or if they should be moved into a senior living community. This period can be a stressful time in your employees’ lives, impacting their productivity and work/life balance. Some ways that your company can help ease the burden include:

  • Flexibility – COVID has given employees the ability to telecommute or have flexible hours; this flexibility means the world when taking on the responsibility of an aging parent. Hybrid workforces have become a new normal which gives employees more opportunity to care for their family members while still working.
  • Long-term care insurance – Provide a long-term care insurance option to help ease the financial burden when parents, or even an employee, cannot perform certain activities of daily living; ensure employees are aware of this benefit and what it does/doesn’t cover.
  • Employee assistance programs – Offer access to an employee assistance program. This benefit provides free and confidential counseling services to your employees and their eligible dependents for concerns such as stress management, depression, anxiety, family conflicts or financial difficulties.

As an HR Manager or Executive, you yourself, might be going through the exact same situation. To take it one step further, here are a few “functional” capabilities that play a major role in deciding if a senior living community or additional help is necessary:

  • Are they healthy enough to live without assistance? If yes, is the home safe?
  • Is there enough lighting? Rooms should be lit well enough so one can easily navigate through the house in the dark. Adding motion activated nightlights to hallways and bathrooms is a good idea.
  • Are there smoke, carbon dioxide and radon detectors in the home? Make sure there are working detectors in the house and change the batteries yearly. Many security systems now include radon and CD warning add-ons.
  • Are there handrails along the staircases? All stairs require sturdy railings. Senior citizens can struggle with maintaining their balance. Make sure it’s properly anchored and, if applicable, have one on both sides of the stairwell.
  • Is there a handrail in the shower? The shower and bathtub should have handrails, giving them something to grab hold of when entering or exiting the bath. Rubber bathmats are a must.
  • How high are the cabinets? Where’s the medicine kept? Try not to put things in a place that requires a stepstool. Put items that are frequently used like plates, cups, glasses and medicine in places that are easy to get to.
  • Is there a fire extinguisher in the house? If not, get one. Make sure your parent knows how to use it. Time after time we see fires that could have been quickly extinguished if only someone knew how to use the extinguisher.

If a senior citizen has the physical strength and ability to maintain their memory and care for themselves, living alone is a possibility, but it doesn’t make it any easier on you or your employees. Look for small opportunities that can make a big difference for your workforce.

For more information on benefits like long-term care insurance, contact a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor.

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