When you decide to take care of an aging parent on your own, the decision often comes from both an emotional and a practical place. Of course you want to make the most of these years with mom or dad, and doing so can seemingly save you money in the long run. However, it’s important to know that caregiving has its costs, even if you don’t plan to hire a professional.
Effects on Employment and Well-Being
Medical News Today reported on a study by Case Western University that looked at the health and employment effects of women who were both working full time and acting as a home caregiver. The report found that depression was relatively common among this group, stemming from a number of things, from their living situation and relationship with their loved one, to more external factors like family members and outside agencies. Additionally, the news source noted that the time spent caregiving may affect career opportunities later on. For instance, women who both worked and were primary caregivers reported passing up job opportunities, loss of benefits from reduced hours and extra expenditures tied to taking care of an aging parent or relative. The latter can include items like food, travel, medical supplies and changes around the home, such as the addition of ramps, guard rails or special beds.
A Gallup report revealed that the cost of work loss among full- and part-time caregivers in the U.S. stands at around $28 billion. Among this population of at-home caretakers, 20 percent were female and 16 percent were male, and roughly 1 in 5 are middle-aged. Some employers are proactive about these challenges that caregivers face and will offer benefits, such as paid vacation or sick leave to tend to an aging parent or relative. Other perks include mental health assistance, access to support groups and health counselors. However, Gallup’s statistics show that these benefits aren’t widespread in the U.S. workplace. Home caregivers take on a big responsibility, but luckily there are many options available for assistance. Having a discussion with an eldercare professional can help you identify solutions that best suit the needs of mom and dad while not compromising your own health, career or need to maintain a close relationship during these sometimes difficult years.