When a loved one is in need of senior care, oftentimes the first reaction that people have is to do it themselves. This can mean leaving a job, either permanently or temporarily, while the family member is in need of assistance. A leave of absence can seem like a good idea, especially if it is something that your employer is okay with it.
In reality, things are rarely ever that simple. There are a number of reasons why providing all of the care on your own might not be the best decision for you and your family. For starters, knowledge of your loved one’s health issues might be a major hindrance to providing the level of care that they deserve. Someone with more experience than you might be a better choice to provide care and supervision, if only for a small portion of the day.
This can be a difficult thing to wrap our brains around. After all, a lot of people care for family members their whole lives. Caring for an older person should just be part of that. But caring for an elderly loved one can be quite different from raising children. While the sentiment and love might be exactly the same, the advanced needs of a senior citizen can present different challenges from what a baby might experience. Having the background and training to address those needs safely might be a situation that you’re just not ready for.
Having the experience of a professional on your side can bridge that gap. And when an in-home caregiver is utilized, you remain close by your parent’s side while care is given. A leave of absence isn’t necessary because a caregiver is there while you’re away. When you return from work, you can pick up right where they left off.
For some people, the motivation to take a leave of absence from work to care for a loved one comes from financial concerns. However, the research shows that far more people utilize this option than probably should. Long term, it is usually not the best choice to leave a job for an extended period of time to provide care. Yes, care does have a cost associated with it, but the opportunity cost of leaving a job to provide care is far greater than what the cost of care is. The short term gains might be helpful, but after a short period of time (it varies based on what your career is), paying for a professional caregiver tends to be a lot cheaper. Unfortunately, a lot of people never look past the short term, or do not have the financial resources to make this a realistic option.
This is not to say that a leave of absence is never the right call. For some, it is. Each family is unique and has a different set of needs and priorities that need to be addressed in senior care. The only way that these things can be achieved is with thoughtfulness and intentionality. Thinking these issues through on your own–or with the help of a professional–will help you give your family better care.