Respite needs expected to grow with aging population

Currently, there are 38 million adults in the United States who serve as a caregiver of an elderly parent or a family member with a disability or chronic condition.

In 2021, nearly 179,000 people in Nebraska identified themselves as caregivers. This number may be even higher, because many people do not consider themselves a caregiver even though they provide care for a loved one. For many people, supporting a relative is considered “expected,” so they fail to recognize their needs and importance as caregivers.

“Providing care for a loved one can be stressful and juggling work on top of caregiving can be very stressful,” said Georgia Ryba, UNMC respite employer engagement coordinator and a working caregiver herself. “Oftentimes, we feel pulled in many different directions.”

Ryba’s mission is to raise awareness among Nebraska Medicine and UNMC colleagues of the respite resources available to caregivers. Through respite services, family caregivers can receive a temporary break from the ongoing demands of caring for their loved one.

Her work is part of a program with the Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to explore the impact respite services can have on the productivity of a company’s workforce. Because UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are a large employer, and because of MMI’s established relationship with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the med center was chosen to be part of the employer engagement program.

“Employers are striving to support and retain their workforce – they are acknowledging that employees have obligations outside of work and are willing to make accommodations and offer supports,” Ryba said. “Preventing burnout is always better than trying to repair burnout. If we added up the 168 million hours spent by caregivers providing care outside of work, the value of their caregiving is estimated to be $2.8 billion.”

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, more people than ever will become caregivers, increasing the need for education and awareness of respite services. As of 2021, 30% of caregivers were caring for two generations simultaneously, in a group referred to as “The Sandwich Generation.”

The med center would like to learn more about the demands of caregiving on our workforce. If you provide care to someone, please take this brief survey.

Take a moment to learn more about respite services that are available.

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