Though you (and your parents) may have established that you will definitely care for them should the time come, it is imperative that you plan ahead for financial reasons. Should you quit your job, should you hire a home care aide or a geriatric care manager? These are all possibilities that you should investigate prior to a crisis situation. For more information regarding Geriatric Care Management and Home Care in South Florida, visit us at www.caremanage.com.
10 Tips for Caring for Aging Parents
Caring for an aging parent may be the highest calling of your life. But it also can rob you of time, money, and your own experiences. In some cases, these personal sacrifices can create bitterness and regret, causing ill will toward the very people you love and have pledged to help.
MetLife’s aging and retirement research unit, the Mature Market Institute (MMI), measured the financial costs and sacrifices of family caregiving in a study released last month. More recently, it used those findings to create recommendations for how family members might cope with the financial stresses of caregiving.
The number of people taking care of an aging parent has soared in the past 15 years. MetLife estimates that nearly 10 million adult children over age 50 now care for an aging parent. In 1994, only 3 percent of men and 9 percent of women helped provide basic care for a parent. In 2008, 17 percent of men and 28 percent of women provided such care, which is defined as helping with dressing, feeding, bathing, and other personal care needs. This level of help goes well beyond grocery shopping, driving parents to appointments, and helping them with financial matters. And it’s more stressful as well.
In taking the time to provide family care, MetLife said, working Americans lose an estimated $3 trillion in lifetime wages, with average losses of $324,044 for women and $283,716 for men. With these costs and other money issues in mind, MMI researchers put together 10 tips about the financial consequences of caregiving.
1. Think very carefully before quitting a job to help a parent. Gaining time may be offset by not only your loss of current income but also damage to your retirement savings. If you leave work, what are the odds of finding work in the future? Would your job skills still be attractive to prospective employers if you didn’t work for several years?
2. Would you lose other helpful benefits if you left your job? In addition to your own health insurance, are there employee disability, life insurance, and long-term care insurance policies that would be very costly to replace? Check out your employer’s flex-time and family leave policies. Perhaps they would allow you to keep your job.
3. Make a caregiving budget. Before making a lifestyle decision with financial consequences, put together a comprehensive look at what you are spending on caregiving. Make a companion list of your parent’s resources and how they might be better used to support caregiving activities.