According to a study made by MetLife, the cost of sacrifice when it comes to caring for an elderly parent is about $3 trillion. That is how much Americans give up in lifetime wages when they quit their job to help care for an older family member, usually a parent. To be a bit more specific, the average man gives up about $283,700 over the course of their lifetime, and the average female gives up $324,000. In other words, caring for a loved one is expensive, and giving up your career so that you can be the primary caregiver isn’t always the money saving alternative that it seems to be. There are many other things that need to be taken into account.
Remember that you are not the only person that can be a caregiver. There are likely others in your family that you trust to take on this responsibility. You don’t need to ask them to do the brunt of the work for the family, but having someone fill in for you once in a while can give you a chance to take a break, get out of the house, and relax for a couple of hours. The same can be accomplished with a professional respite caregiver. Our advice with a professional caregiver in this capacity is to do your research before you bring someone on, and once you have a professional helping you, use the same caregiver every time you need a break. This will add continuity and familiarity to your mom or dad’s life, and that built up relationship between caregiver and your parent will allow the caregiver to provide better assistance, too. If you do this through a service, then it makes transitioning into a fulltime caregiver (if it’s ever needed) a lot easier, too.
Your first priority is the safety and happiness of your family, and primarily that of the person that needs assistance. Many people believe that they are the person that can best provide these things for their parent, and jump into their new role as caregiver. That’s admirable, but not always the best approach. Sometimes, hiring a professional to step in is the best choice. It allows you to keep your job so that you are still providing for your family, but allows your mom or dad to still receive the high level of care that they need.
Care is not cheap, but neither is leaving your job to provide care. If leaving your job in order to care for a loved one is truly the right move for you, then that is what you should do. Just know that you don’t need to do this all on your own. There are other options out there, even if they are used on a temporary basis, such as what you would find with a respite caregiver. You know your family and your situation better than anyone else, and money isn’t the most important thing in life. Whatever it is that you decide is best for your family, make sure that you know your options and think them through very carefully.