Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May focus on older Americans

May is Older Americans Month, declared so by President Obama in recognition of the contributions of older citizens to our country.

“Older Americans have carried our Nation through great challenges and triumphs. They have enriched our national character and strengthened the Republic for those who have followed. During the month of May, we pay tribute to the wisest among us.

“Throughout the land, older Americans are strengthening our communities and the American way of life. Many senior citizens remain in the workforce to support themselves and their families. Others are embarking on second careers and exploring new interests and fields of knowledge. Inspiring citizens of all ages, many serve as advocates and volunteers in community service roles. In this important work, they make a real difference in the daily lives of fellow citizens of all ages, while promoting and strengthening the American spirit of civic participation.” (read more)

In one community, Marietta, Ohio, the local Area Agency on Aging is offering a variety of resource to help caregivers and their employers. Focusing on caregivers and employers makes good sense, since current estimates place the cost to businesses nationally in the billions of dollars.

Many of these costs to businesses related to absenteeism and work interruptions due to emergencies – not a surprise to any family caregiver. Caregiving is emotionally draining and time-consuming during working and non-working hours.

Employers can reduce some of their costs by helping caregiving employees work flexible hours, take leaves when needed, and by supporting caregiver’s education and training. As more and more family members face the need to step into caregiving roles employers will, by necessity, need to become even more creative to help their employees continuing caregiving, and continue working, too.

Older Americans Month gives us a moment to pause and think about the contributions of elders in our society, and commit, as a nation, to supporting those who care for them.

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