Nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 in the U.S. are caring for an aging parent. These family caregivers are facing the challenge of providing care and financial support for their aging parents at the same time when they should be planning and saving for their own retirement.
The recent MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers titled "Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents" reveals a number of startling statistics:
* Adult children age 50 and over who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health than those who do not provide care to their parents.
* Daughters are more likely to provide direct care and assistance and sons are more likely to provide financial support.
* Working and non-working adult children are almost equally as likely to provide to parents in need.
* The average working Baby Boomer who is involved in the care of an aging parent is on average facing a loss of $303,880 over a lifetime due to lost wages, reduction in pension and Social Security benefits.
What can caregivers do to protect their own personal health and earning potential?
First, be sure to pay attention to one's own health. Seek out medical care as well as help in managing stress. Take advantage of preventative health services.
Second, ask for help. Seek out services which can support you in the caregiving role. Meals-on-Wheels, adult day programs, home care services and respite care are options for adding extra hours of care for an aging parent.
Third, talk with your employer about flexibility in your work schedule or use of FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act).
Fourth, learn if your company has an Employee Assistance Program. Talk to the EAP advisors who can often open the doors to new areas of help which may not have been considered.
And last of all, join a support group. Support from other caregivers can be immensely helpful in gaining new perspective, to learn how others are coping and in learning about available community resources.
Taking care of you is the best investment for your future and the care of your parents.