How Does Eldercare Affect Job Performance?

Caring for an aging parent can cause increased stress and decreased mental health. In recent years, the number of people who provide eldercare services for family members while employed outside of the home has increased dramatically. Studies have shown that the demands of eldercare have negative impacts on mental health, which in turn results in lower work performance. But until now, no study has directly examined the link between eldercare demands and job performance. Additionally, no previous studies have identified why some people who provide eldercare services do not experience negative work-related outcomes and others do. Hannes Zacher of the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia hopes that the results of her recent study will help organizations and clinicians better understand the relationship between eldercare demands and work performance so that they can target interventions and strategies that will enhance both.

Zacher looked at reports from 165 individuals providing eldercare to family members in their homes, as well as data from an additional family member and a colleague of each individual. The study revealed that the participants who were most satisfied with the level of eldercare they were providing had relatively little negative job performance. Specifically, the participants with the highest levels of eldercare satisfaction had very high levels of mental health, which influenced their job outcome in the positive direction. The results support the Conservation of Resources Theory, which implies that resources in one domain of life support and increase availability of resources in other domains. Therefore, people who have strong family support and positive emotional responses from providing eldercare will have a larger well of healthy emotional resources available to them to draw on during their workday. Zacher suggests that organizations begin to implement interventions and programs designed to help employees increase their awareness of the eldercare-work dynamic. She said, “One possibility to do so may be to offer advice, services, and practical activities that provide meaning to the caregiving role and, in turn, may raise satisfaction with eldercare tasks.” This will result in better mental health and higher productivity on the job and will also make the organization a more attractive employer to job seekers.

Zacher, H., Nerina L. J., and Winter, G. Eldercare Demands, Mental Health, and Work Performance: The Moderating Role of Satisfaction with Eldercare Tasks. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 17.1 (2012): 52-64. Print.

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  • madeline


    January 20th, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    exactly what I thot..If you’re happy with d job you’re doing then good health will follow.cribbing about what you’re doin and doing it without conviction will make the task or job seem like a burden and can quickly bring you down..!

  • Carol Pitts

    Carol Pitts

    January 20th, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    If you have never been in this situation then you cannot imagine how caring for an elderly and sick parent can affect your life. You think that it will be fine, that this is you mom but you don’t realize the emotional and physical toll that giving this kind of care day in and day out can cause on your health and well being. I have watched my own dad go through such hard times, and that affects me so strongly that I did not even realize how much until finally I looked myself in the mirror and saw a former shadow of myself. It is never fast and it is never easy on any adult child who has been forced to become the parent to your own father. Those are roles that are hard to adjust to.

  • Erica


    January 20th, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    SOme people enjoy caring for the elderly while most do not. SO I think its a fair reward for those who do!

  • noni


    January 21st, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    it is hard to think about a parent getting to this point in life where i have to drop my own life to taks care of them

    i know that is my job as a child and they did the same for me but it is not exactly what most of us would envision

  • Eaglezone


    January 22nd, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Anything that consumes your thoughts the way that this can is bound to affect how productive you will be in any facet of your life. This is something that is going to take over your thoughts, and the thoughts are going to whirl, and you are going to find it harder and harder to concentrate on anything else. I know that there are families who can’t afford other care, but you have to make some sort of effort to get removed from it from a while. That does not mean that you don’t care but it does mean that you are trying to take care of yourself too.

  • fiona


    January 23rd, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    not anything against elder care but usually taking care of any person will strain you mentally and physically and we all know that when that happens your productivity goes down and everything is on the decline…

    so the solution would be to find a balance, to take care of a loved on and still protect yourself from any negatives. a lot of these negatives can be prevented or are absent in the first place if there’s no major illness and if the care taking is short term.

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