A new University of Minnesota study shows working caregivers are facing multiple challenges, especially in rural Minnesota.

Study spokeswoman Carrie Henning-Smith says as the state’s population ages care needs are increasing. She says the challenge of caring for a loved one and balancing work is an on-going struggle for many. Henning-Smith says workers in the rural areas don’t have the same access to workplace support services as in the urban areas, “And these are things like an employee assistance program, information or referrals through their workplace to help them with their caregiving.”

Henning-Smith explained, “When you’re looking at employed caregivers, you’re really capturing people who may fall into that “sandwiched generation” where they are carrying for an older parent, they have children at home and they are trying to balance a job, that’s a lot.”

Other roadblocks: less than 10-percent of rural caregivers are able to work from home compared to 25-percent of urban caregivers. And only 18-percent of rural caregivers have access to paid leave, compared with 34-percent in the urban caregivers.

Henning-Smith said there needs to be more workplace supports put in place — especially in outstate Minnesota, “Whether that’s employee assistance to help with some of the stress and the burden, whether it’s information or referrals that can help them or just more flexible work hours or paid leave.”


Henning-Smith suggests that employers who create more supportive work environments for employed caregivers will help a large number of people, and could see greater workplace satisfaction and less turnover from employees.