Caregiving: Should I quit my job?

I saw a good article today on Penn Live, Harrisburg, PA, entitled “Measure financial impact of quitting job to care for mom: Linda Rhodes.” See: http://connect.pennlive.com/user/lrhodes/posts.html. The article rang true because this is what I did to take care of my husband’s mother in our home.

Linda Rhodes discusses factors that need to be considered before quitting a job to provide elder care, number one being the financial impact. She cites the MetLife study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers, which puts the total financial impact of elder care on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages, Social Security and pension benefits at $324,044.

These numbers must be based on averages—I certainly don’t know precisely how much we were financially impacted by my quitting my job. We did have a financial agreement with my mother-in-law (and agreed to by my husband’s siblings) to cover the loss of my income—which was essential to our cost of living. I’m sure the agreement did not cover the full financial loss, but we felt that it was fair, and that this was something we could do for his mother. See my book, What to Do about Mama? p. 8 for details.

Many of the other issues that Linda Rhodes addresses also appear by example in the book.
• Caregiving is a family affair:
WTDAM Family Involvement and Support p. 55
WTDAM Caregiving Contracts p. 61
• There are all kinds of ways you can help:
WTDAM Deborah’s Story p. 98
• Other options:
Reverse mortgages WTDAM p. 144
Caregiver Contracts (and elder care lawyers) WTDAM pp. 140, 143, 145
• Family Medical Leave (FMLA) WTDAM pp. 144, 169
• Long-term care insurance WTDAM pp. 45, 143, 144
• Inheritance issues
WTDAM discusses sharing responsibility and inheritance “equally” p. 149.

What to Do about Mama? A Guide to Caring for Aging Family Members, a collection of caregiving stories written by caregivers for caregivers, also addresses aspects such as: The emotional journey; Impact on the family; Sharing responsibility; Managing finances; Maintaining dignity; and so much more.

Barbara Matthews