My mother’s health has been declining recently. She now needs almost daily assistance. I’ve been considering retiring for several years. If I retire now, I can become my mother’s caregiver.
As I debate the pros and cons, I’m wondering if you can help me better understand the advantages and disadvantages of being a caregiver. I want to be sure I’m making an informed decision for myself and my mother.
Thank you in advance for your help!
Advantages of Being a Caregiver for a Loved One
Your situation is one many family members struggle with. In fact, 43.5 million people a year step into the role of an unpaid family caregiver. Most care for a family member or friend who is over the age of 50.
Making an informed decision about whether to assume the role of a caregiver takes careful thought, as you suggested. There are a few factors I would advise you to consider.
Here are some advantages of caregiving:
- Spend meaningful time caring for someone who cared for you.
- Give your children (and grandchildren) an opportunity to develop deeper bonds with a family elder.
- Keep a senior loved one at home versus moving them to an assisted living or nursing home.
- Closely control the quality of care your family member receives.
- Save money you would have spent on an assisted living community or nursing care center.
While there are many positive reasons to take on the role of a caregiver, there are some disadvantages of caregiving:
- Depending on your mother’s needs, you might find yourself performing tasks you are uncomfortable with. These often involve intimate personal care.
- The role can be all-consuming. If you don’t have a good support system or backup caregivers, you might experience a health crisis of your own.
- If you are considering moving your mother in with you, you’ll likely need to modify your home to make it safe for her. This can be very expensive.
- Since you’ve likely been looking forward to retiring, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Are you prepared to put your retirement dreams on hold to be your mother’s caregiver for what might be many years?
Some families achieve better balance by utilizing the services of an in-home caregiver. A professional caregiver can supplement the care family members provide. The relationship also means that if a family caregiver gets sick or wants to take a vacation, they have someone to turn to for assistance.
Please let me know if you have any more caregiving questions, Tina. Good luck working through this decision.