Aging is a natural and inevitable progression of life for all. One that brings with it a range of new changes and stages, but not without challenges. These challenges can be felt particularly by the person becoming elderly, however, the situation can also have a major impact on the entire family. This particularly if the elderly family member requires a certain level of care. Families need to decide how they opt for that care to be provided, either in the form of other family members or professional care. If they decide to rely on family members, it often means the caregiver needs to stop working. For each family faced with these kinds of decisions, the path can often feel unclear and frightening. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons of the available options for the entire family and see what solution would best serve everyone. If you are currently faced with this predicament with your aged parent, then keep reading as this discussion is going to look at how to decide whether you should leave work to take care of them or not.
A Sense Of Obligation
For many families, the decision to leave work to take care of a loved one is often a financial one. They are concerned that the cost of professional care will be more than their income and so it is not worth it. On top of this, many people feel that due to the circle of life, it is their ‘turn’ and responsibility to take care of their parents as they get older. Be it financially and otherwise. They feel that because their parents cared for them as children, it is only natural that they would do the same for them in their old age. However, what people often do not consider, is the emotional impact this change in the arrangement in leaving work might have on their lives. For some people, it does work and enhances their relationship with their parents, but, for others, this is not the case.
Most people gain a sense of purpose and meaning from their means of employment, and thus no longer working can often result in a period of identity-confusion. Now added to the mix that your parent is the person with whom you are going to be occupying your days each day. Plus, the task might not be easy, and not to mention unpaid. You might find yourself feeling resentful towards the situation, and that it harms your relationship with your parents. This stress can manifest in other areas of your life, and where work used to be a distraction, you no longer have that outlet. All of this is completely understandable and does not make you a bad son or daughter for feeling this way.
If this resonates, then this is to validate your feelings and tell you that it is very normal. Moreover, this feeling of obligation and needing to do the “right thing” could be at the cost of your psychological wellbeing. So what are your options?
Depending on where you are based and your elderly parent’s level of need, check out the comprehensive elderly care services in your area that are available and suit your budget and needs. There are trusted care providers who care for your loved ones with integrity and respect while doing the tasks that you’d rather not worry about. You can pick from a range of options such as live-in or live-out carers so that your parents can remain in their familiar living environment. If that does not suit, there are also always homes, villages, or frail care centers to name a few. This way, you can rest assured that your parent is getting the optimal care they deserve, and you can preserve your relationship
Start Preparing Early
One way you can aim to reduce the impact of such a major life change is to start preparing your arrangement in advance so that it does not become a panicked and reactionary decision. If your parents are still cognitively well enough, have honest conversations with them and the whole family about everyone’s wishes and ways to make it work. Look at ways to save financially as a family to help you to be prepared to pay for services to alleviate the burden on everyone when the time comes. In the spirit of staying proactive in your approach, it is also important to support and encourage your parents to stay as active and independent as possible, to try and decrease their chances of experiencing any major declines with regards to their functioning and health.
If you are currently sitting with the decision of whether to leave work to look after your parents, you probably have a lot to think about. Take time to consider the entire situation by looking at how the arrangement will benefit, and/or possibly negatively impact the lives of those involved. At the end of the day, you want to find an option that will best suit everyone while protecting everyone’s health, wellbeing, and livelihood.