August 14, 2013

Know Your Risks as a Caregiver

Providing care to your elderly or sick parent can be a rewarding job. There is the extra time spent together, special bonding and sharing those final moments as a family. But with reward, come risk. Before deciding to take on the role as your parent’s primary caregiver, you should know what the job entails and how it can affect your life.

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Having to care for your parent 24 hours a day, seven days a week is exhausting and stressful. There will be good days for you and your parent, and there will be bad days as well. The adjustment can be difficult for both parties involved, which can add to your stress level.

What to do

When you find yourself stressed out and feel as if nothing can go right, leave the house. Try going for a walk, shopping or pamper yourself with a haircut or pedicure. Leaving the situation for a short period of time to regroup can really help you see things in a different light.

Financial Impact

Providing unpaid care to your parent can have a negative financial impact on your own life. You may have to quit your job to take on the responsibility of being a full-time caregiver, and you may have to dip into your retirement savings to help pay the bills. The financial consequences associated with unpaid caregiving can lead to high stress-levels and, in extreme cases, even depression.

What to do

When caregiving begins to have a negative financial impact on your life, you will need to talk to your family. See if your siblings can help pay the medical bills. If you do not have siblings but do have the support of a spouse, talk to your spouse about working part-time to help pay the bills. When talking to your family does not work, talk to a financial advisor about your options.

Caring for an elderly or sick parent is a stressful job that, unfortunately, does not pay. But knowing you are sharing those final weeks or months together can be very rewarding. Weigh your options carefully before you decide to be your parent’s full-time caregiver.