You Can't Wait 10 Years
This afternoon, I watched an online discussion about The Caregiver Crisis sponsored by TEDMED Great Challenges. The event featured four experts sharing their thoughts about the challenges and problems in the caregiving experience. You can watch the video of the event below.
During the discussion, Alan Blaustein, founder, CarePlanners, said that he believes that the solutions around caregiving, particularly those involving work and caregiving, will take ten years to resolve.
His comment about ten years created a stir on Twitter for those of us following the event (#greatchallenges).
I believe it won't take ten years simply because the crisis won't wait ten years.
Two weeks ago, I gave an eldercare presentation to one of our largest financial service companies based here in Chicago. After the presentation, the company's vice president of the company's Employee Assistance Program said, "Caregiving is the greatest stressor our employees currently face."
In 2009, 66 million individuals provided care to a family member or friend. We've reach the tipping point. It's not an experience that just happens to someone we know. It's an experience that happens to everyone we know. Because of that, the sheer numbers of family caregivers will change business as usual simply because business won't operate as usual. It can't when so many employees will be involved in caregiving.
As you know, caregiving means crisis. More and more employees will be away from work, even if only for an afternoon a month, to manage their personal caregiving crisis. A caregiving crisis doesn't wait for the employer benefit--it just happens. There's no chicken-or-the-egg dilemma here. Caregiving will cause employers to adjust; it's not that employers will adjust and then employees will take on caregiving responsibilities.
Jo shared this comment after a recent talk show Trish and I did (When Work and Caregiving Call on the Same Line):
I too have found that I as I share my needs with others in the work place, more and more of them have similar needs. Statistically we know that as the Baby Boomers age the population of caregivers and caregivee’s is growing. Instead of me being an anomaly, increasingly I’m one of many. It’s less and less, my office only covering for me, but instead all of us caring for each other. This isn’t a universal reality but I’m seeing this more and more.
The other point that was touched on which I would emphasize, while I’m at work, I work doubly hard knowing that I could be called away or have to impose on my colleagues at a moments notice. I doubt employers think of their caregiving employees as the hardest working ones within their office but I’d wager that it is true more often than not.
You are disruptors. Maybe you don't have the time to create a picket line to cause change. But because you don't have a lot of time, you will make changes in the health care system, the workplace and in the communities happen. You don't have time to waste.
Because of your sheer numbers, you'll walk around the obstacles you face. You'll create the change and then the organizations will follow. Maybe the policies, both in the workplace, in our tax structure and in our health care system, won't be formalized for another ten years. But the formal policies will follow the informal changes you've already made. You'll continue to cover for your fellow caregiving co-workers, demand better health care services for you and your caree, and complain loudly when you receive poor service from providers in your community. You'll take to Twitter, Facebook and on your blog here to talk about the changes you've already implemented to make caregiving work. Because of technology, when you share, you'll reach more and more of the caregiving masses. You won't wait for the official policy because you can't wait.
It won't take ten years. Simply because you've already started. You already disrupt.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
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