It’s usually pretty easy to love and care about the people in our lives, especially when it comes to family, but sometimes life calls on us to take that a step further and become caregivers.
People become caregivers for many different reasons. Often times, an elderly parent is in need of care from their children, sometimes a grandparent steps in to care for a grandchild. Other times, it could be the need of a sibling or other relative, or perhaps a friend stepping in to help another friend or neighbor. However, it comes about, becoming a caregiver can be both rewarding and burdensome.
A caregiver is someone that provides care and tends to the needs of a person with short- or long-term limitations due to age, injury, disability, or illness. This could mean providing physical, social, medical, and emotional support. While it’s easy to list the black and white expectations of a caregiver, it goes much deeper than superficial actions. Being a caregiver means becoming an advocate, a cleaner, a medication dispenser, a cook, and requires flexibility. All those responsibilities can feel overwhelming. It can also create a huge financial burden to both the person needing care and the caregiver. A study done in 2011 showed that women over 50 who leave the workforce to care for a loved one lose up to $324,000 in wages, Social Security benefits, and private pensions over their lifetime because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Being a caretaker is not all bad, though. It is, in fact, a wonderful opportunity to develop a sense of empathy and greater understanding of others. It allows you the chance to learn patience and problem-solving and enhance communication skills. You can develop many abilities that could be useful in other areas of your life.
So where is the balance between the overwhelm and the reward? A lot of it comes down to how well the person needing aid has prepared financially. When people include a Long-Term Care (LTC) policy in their retirement and financial plan it ensures that if the time comes, there is money set aside for their needs, easing the burden a lack of money could place on them and their caretaker. Having LTC insurance in place changes the role of the caregiver to a care manager, allowing them to pay for professional help when needed, relieving the burden of being a sole caregiver. The role change can also relieve other personal burdens felt as a caregiver, reducing the pressure it places on their family and work life. However, one of the greatest blessings comes from the piece of mind it can provide.
Being a caregiver can be a rewarding and fulfilling role. It provides an opportunity to give back and help someone else. It’s important to plan financially and avoid the negative pitfalls of being financially unprepared. Having a LTC policy could be an option as you plan for your future retirement needs, for both you and your loved ones that would be taking care of you, providing peace of mind for everyone involved.
Photo by Lina Trochez