Helping Employees Care for a Growing Number of Adult Dependents

    Posted by TASC Large Markets on May 13, 2020 7:30:00 AM

    More than 20 million American workers also serve as caregivers to their dependents.1 Traditionally, we think of those dependents as children. But an increasing number of Generation X and Millennial workers are caring for adults in their families. According to AARP, about 6.2 million Millennials care for a parent, in-law or grandparent.2


    One reason for multi-generation families is the rising cost of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. With many elders unable to afford those options, that means staying in their homes with help or moving in with their working children. This bears out in the number of in-home health care workers increasing 150 percent in the last decade.3

    Even with that growth, there is a strain on the supply of paid caregivers making it difficult for workers to find care for parents and older relatives. The cost doesn’t help either.  The average annual cost of adult day care was $18,000 in 2018.4 In 2019, the average cost of adult home care was $21 an hour.5 With one third of working Millennial caregivers earning less than $30,000 a year, that’s more than 27% of their income paying for adult dependent care.6

    Under the best of circumstances, securing professional care during working hours puts a personal and financial strain on employees. Then add the fact that they may have young children to care for too. If there’s an unexpected disruption in the arrangements they’ve made—illness or sudden closures, the stress magnifies. Many back-up care options—calling on family or friends, drop-in daycare centers, babysitting co-ops, even taking the child to work for the day—aren’t available, possible or practical with older dependents who need assistance during the workday. The care that is available comes at a premium. Often, then, the choice for young workers is between staying home with the dependent and perhaps missing a day (or more) of work, or paying more than they can afford for an interim caregiver or facility.

    Some leading-edge companies have already addressed this challenge. Adobe provides back-up care for both childcare and adults, offering up to one hundred hours of temporary daycare to its employees as a standing benefit.7

    Even if your company doesn’t formalize a relationship with a back-up care provider, you can still offer assistance to employees facing added expenses for unanticipated adult daycare needs.

    A Back-Up Care Reimbursement Account (BCRA) can be offered for both childcare and adult care. It allows reimbursement for expenses incurred because of an unexpected disruption in normal daycare arrangements. When employees have a qualifying event, they request to be reimbursed up to a maximum amount you determine. This employer-funded account is taxable income to the employee and reportable on the employee’s W2. At the end of the plan year, any money left in the account is returned to you, the employer, as forfeiture.

    Every day, about 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old.8 With more and more of them looking to younger family members for care and/or housing, adult daycare will only increase in importance in the coming years. Offering a reimbursement account can help recruit talented younger people who know that sooner or later they will find themselves needing back-up care for their parents, grandparents and other adult dependents. It also gives your employees the peace of mind that they have some money in reserve, just in case. That can lead to less absenteeism, and people who are happier and more focused.


    Editor’s Note:  TASC offers an Back-Up Care Reimbursement Account (BCRA) as one of more than 40 benefit offerings that can be configured into custom plans that meet employee needs – where they are in life.



    1. “The Overlooked Benefit Gen X Workers Need,” Fast Company, May 2018:
    2. “Millennials: The Emerging Generation of Family Caregivers,” AARP, May 2018:
    3. “On the Job, 24 Hours A Day…,” The New York Times, September 2019:
    4. “It looks like it’s not just crushing student loans holding back millennials…,” Business Insider, August 2018:
    5. “Senior Care Costs…,” Paying for Senior Care, August 2019:
    6. “It looks like it’s not just crushing student loans holding back millennials…,” Business Insider, August 2018:
    7. “The Overlooked Benefit Gen X Workers Need,” Fast Company, May 2018:
    8. “As the US population ages, the need for health-care workers skyrockets,” CNBC, June 2018: