You're at a crossroads. Your mom isn’t safe to live at home alone anymore, or your dad has difficulty taking care of himself since your mom passed away. Now what? For many, the thought of family caregiving is a potential option. But, it’s a big commitment. Take into consideration these pros and cons when making your decision.
Simply put, caregiving is an act of love. And when the person being cared for is a parent, that action can be profoundly meaningful.
For many, the chance to care for a parent comes with the opportunity to pay back the lifetime of love and sacrifice their parents made for them. It also increases the opportunity for quality time with your parent. In fact, nearly 8 in 10 family caregivers say that the experience strengthened their relationship with their loved one.
Becoming a family caregiver is usually an unplanned change in lifestyle. While it can be extremely rewarding caring for those who raised you, there also may be some hidden negative impacts to take into consideration.
Caregiving can affect your own psychological and physical health. Here are a few statistics related to being a family caregiver:
- 53 percent of family caregivers experience Depression
- Caregivers who work outside of the home had a two-thirds greater likelihood of contracting a chronic disease.
- Family caregivers are more likely to be hospitalized and to take medicine than their peers.
And in addition to the physical wear and tear your own body might take, there are financial, emotional and social impacts to be considered such as:
- Juggling the responsibility of caregiving with a full-time job. If you plan to be responsible for all medical appointments, in addition to the responsibility of caregiving, missed days from work can stack up quickly.
- The impact caregiving can have on your social life. The average caregiver spends upwards of 24 hours a week caring for a loved one.
- Caregiving can cause strain on your relationship with a spouse. Most families don’t discuss moving an in-law into the house until it’s a necessity. With a whirlwind of emotions stirring because of having to leave a home unwantedly and move in with an adult child, relationships between your parent and your significant other can clash.
- Caregiving can affect your relationship with siblings. Whether it’s out of sheer frustration that your siblings aren’t helping with the caregiving responsibilities, or feelings of jealousy that you spend more time with your parent than they do, being a family caregiver can take some serious tolls on relationships with brothers and sisters.
- Caregiving can cause financial strain with family caregivers often contributing financially to the person in their care.
- Your health and wellness are oftentimes placed second. Caregiver stress and burnout can affect your own overall health and wellbeing.
Stepping into the Role of Caregiver
Setting yourself up for success requires a bit of planning. Here are some tips for becoming a family caregiver:
- Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect doctor visits and tap into support groups
- Identify what caregiving resources are available in your area. Meals-on-wheels, adult day care, and assisted living communities that offer respite care allow caregivers to take a much needed break.
- Have a plan in place. Don’t wait until a crisis strikes to have the conversation with your parent. Identify what circumstances might lead to considering a long-term care option for your parent and involve them in the process of planning.
- Take time to establish a financial plan and boundaries. Help your loved one craft a budget. Look into sources of financial assistance. And set your own budget so that your support of your loved one doesn’t jeopardize your own financial health or retirement plan.