There is lots to consider here, so I’ll attempt to cover the most commonly discussed issues. Understand that I was a daughter who kept the promise to keep her own mother out of a nursing home, and yes, I did quit my job for a time to take care of my own mother, so my perspective is from my own real life experience. At that time I also had 3 daughters still living at home from age 12 thru 20, so I was firmly planted in the Sandwich Generation. We built on a mother-in-law apartment for Mom many years earlier. She was un-insurable for Long Term Care Insurance for decades before I became a Long Term Care (Insurance) Planning Specialist. So keeping Mom home as long as possible was always ‘The Plan.’
You Love Your Parent. Simple put you would probably do just about anything for your aging parent who needs oversight due to dementia or physical long term care. Yes they took care of you when you were young, but DO NOT make the decision to quit your job just because you would feel guilty if you didn’t. Most mature adults believe it is their responsibility to provide for themselves and stay independent, even if they do start to need long term care. It’s about their dignity and although you may have not had a frank discussion about how they would feel when the time comes that you will be the one who has to take them to the toilet, believe me it’s in the back of their minds.
Reversing Roles. You may think it is your duty and you will gladly help your aging parent who needs care, but don’t think that you’ll be able to bury every ounce of resentment that is likely to occur, even subconsciously, as your caregiver responsibilities start to become a burden on you psychologically, physically, financially, taking time away from your own regular activities and even your family. And yes, it will affect your existing relationship with your parent. There are many helpful books available today, that might help you realize that you are not alone, like: “The Family Squeeze, Surviving The Sandwich Generation.”
You Need Income. Be sure to calculate what financial sacrifice will be made to your whole family if you don’t work. With laws supporting the Family Leave Act, there are still financial consequences to this equation. You will not be able to continue to contribute to a retirement plan and there won’t be any employer matches either. Personally, I used a financial calculator and entered in: A) my loss of income, B) some out of pocket expenses (Mom didn’t have any assets and nominal social security income), C) loss of retirement contributions, D) loss of employer match on those contributions and . . . fast forward 22 years at a then assumed 7% and the actual total cost to me in retirement is a little over $300,000.
If You Are A Daughter. Don’t get caught in the compassion trap. For decades women have been trapped in the role as it has been assumed ‘the daughter’ in the family will make this sacrifice. Well we weren’t built like men physically, and even though I personally am very tall, athletically and solidly built, I endured 3 compressed discs and narrowly escaped kidney damage. More appropriate would be your taking the role of primary ‘overseer’ of your parent’s care plan, not the primary caregiver. You should work with a Professional Care Manager who will coordinate everything are well their relatively small fee**. They will determine what equipment or services are needed in the home, what government programs are available (but be prepared as for most they will be nominal at best), if there are any free or volunteer services in your community, and most importantly, recommend highly trusted home care agencies in your area, so you can hire the professionals do those personal chores (toileting, bathing, dressing) and the heavy chores (lifting, transferring) while you are still working.
If you were willing to consider foregoing your income and quitting your job, this alternate scenario usually works bests for everyone all around and your discretionary income can assist paying for the long term care services. Then you can be solely focused on the most important thing you can do, which is provide love and care oversight allowing you and your family to spend quality time with your parent.
**If you live in Florida, I have complimentary $150 gift certificates to go toward Professional Care Manager coordination and care services through the state’s largest nurse and caregiver registry, CSI Caregiver Services, Inc. Anyone that attends a Long Term Care Planning educational seminar conducted by The Long Term Care Lady, Janet Washburn, is eligible to receive this valuable gift.
Tags: aging parent, Caregiver, dignity, family leave act, home care agencies, long term care, long term care insurance, long term care services, primary caregiver, professional care manager, retirement contribution, retirement plan, Sandwich generation