The Caregiver Shortage Is Only Getting Worse

It's time to start considering caregiver technology as a viable benefit in the workplace.

By Ray Spoljaric

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Caregiver shortages are on the rise as more than 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, and families of older adults who are more vulnerable to Covid-19 are rethinking nursing homes as an option for their loved ones. Meanwhile, employers are outlining return to work policies, forcing a portion of the 53 million people who are caregivers to find in-home support for their family members. We must embrace technology to fill the gap — bringing peace of mind to everyone in the circle of care and enabling older adults to retain their independence.

The ongoing professional caregiver drought has shifted responsibility to personal caregivers, who spend an average of 24 hours a week providing care, all unpaid. This added responsibility costs companies up to $37 billion annually, due to lost productivity, absenteeism and retention issues. Employers have increasingly begun to recognize the strain on their employees, especially in the last year, and have added tech solutions like wearables and fall detection systems as an employee benefit to lighten the burden.

Related: 4 Ways to Help Employees With Their Mental Health and Emotional Needs as You Reopen Offices

Beyond the costs to employers, acting as a caregiver to an aging family member can take a toll emotionally, mentally and physically. Caregivers are responsible not only for the health of their loved ones and all of the associated tasks, but they also often pick up duties like cooking, cleaning or helping to run errands. As someone who is part of the "sandwich generation" — simultaneously caring for my young children and elderly parents — I've experienced this firsthand, and it can feel like a full-time job before you've even started your actual workday. That experience was formative to the founding of my company Aloe Care Health.

Related: The Untold Emotional and Financial Toll That Home Caregiving Is Having on the Workforce

Living life remotely during the pandemic has put an urgent spotlight on the importance of innovative technology to support caregivers and older adults, and funders are starting to take notice. Investors at Rock Health reported that funding for digital solutions focused on aging in place quadrupled from 2019 to 2020. Further, the myth that older adults aren't interested in technology has been dispelled. AARP reports that people 50 years old and older use smartphones, wearable technology and smart home technology at the same pace as younger adults.

With 90% of people aged 65 and over preferring to stay in their own homes as they get older, the case for technical assistance is clear. For caregivers, it means alleviating some of the tolls of caregiving, and for those receiving care, technology helps maintain a sense of freedom. Employers, take note: The caregiving industry will only continue to grow as more adults age and need assistance. You have a critical role to play in supporting your caregiver employees' needs. It's time to start considering caregiver technology as a viable benefit in the workplace. Not only will it save money and increase productivity, but it's also just the right thing to do.

Related: 5 Health-Tech Startups to Watch in 2021

Ray Spoljaric

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Green Entrepreneur

A Massive Hole In the Sun May Cause Dazzling Light Show Here On Earth

NASA says the coronal hole could blast the Earth with solar winds as early as Friday. What does this mean?

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

The 'Airbnbust' Proves the Wild West Days of Online Vacation Rentals Are Over

Airbnb recently reported that 2022 was its first profitable year ever. But the deluge of new listings foreshadowed an inevitable correction.

Business News

Gen Z Loves the Toyota Camry. Here's What Car Brands Boomers Love Most

S&P Global Mobility provides data on what types of each age group likes the most, based on car registration.