Used to be that companies that offered daycare for working men and women were praised for their innovation and their willingness to help employees manage real work/life issues.

Today, the workplace is dealing with a different concern at the opposite end of the age spectrum: Currently, 15 percent of the U.S. workforce works a “second shift,” caring for an older loved one. By 2020, one in five workers will be over the age of 50 and joining the Sandwich Generation, managing the needs of emerging adult children and elderly parents at once. A recent blog post by Sherri Snelling, executive director at Keck Medicine of USC and author of A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care, addressed that very topic.

Snelling discussed companies that are at the dawn of this new era and are putting supports in place for their caregiving workers.  “My employer’s program to support caregivers was a lifeline,” said Matthew Skahill, 51, an associate director for Astellas, a pharmaceutical company. Snelling said she recently gave a presentation at Astellas when the firm launched its caregiver program. Skahill, who lives in Colorado, found himself with one daughter at college abroad, another gearing up for college applications and an ailing father with Parkinson’s disease who lives in Missouri, Snelling wrote. Last year, Skahill’s company launched a program for workers like him. It includes a robust set of benefits such as use of a professional geriatric care manager to meet with the elder to assess needs, create a care plan and walk the caregiver through options for community services and other help.

“This type of service is not new — a care manager network program from UnitedHealthcare has been around for more than 30 years. But the benefit was important to Skahill; he and his father are discussing having a legal document review to ensure everything is in order based on his dad’s latest wishes and ongoing needs. And Astellas included other benefits that he found invaluable,” she wrote. “I was able to access the identify theft protection service for both my daughter in London, who had suspicious activity on her credit card, as well as my younger daughter,” Skahill says in Snelling’s blog post. He also plans to use the program’s college financial counseling service.  According to 2013 Pew Research report, 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent over 65 and at least one child under 18 or an adult child still receiving financial assistance from mom and dad. One in seven of these Sandwich Generation caregivers are providing financial support for both their children and their aging parents.

To read more from Snelling’s blog, visit: