As their parents enter old age, many adult children are torn between pursuing their careers and quitting their jobs to take care of those they love.

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Career Crossroads: Should You Quit Your Job to Take Care of an Aging Parent?

They often begin stopping by to help with chores and errands, but as parents age, they require more care and these occasional trips become part of children’s daily routines. Trying to balance work responsibilities and caregiving duties can quickly become unsustainable, though. Read on to find out what family caregivers need to know about making the transition from full-time worker to full-time caregiver.

Economic Feasibility

Family caregivers who work full-time may not feel that they have the luxury of putting their careers on hold to care for their loved ones since they still have bills of their own to pay. Thankfully, there are state programs that can help. Find out how to get paid while taking care of family members for help figuring out how to make the transition more economically feasible before committing to quitting a job to provide full-time care.

Family caregivers should note that even with financial assistance, they may still take a pay cut. On average, adult children aged 50 and up lose a little over $300,000 of wages and other income benefits during the time they are providing care. Financial assistance helps to offset those lost wages, but may not make up for 100% of them. For most adult children, taking a pay cut is a worthwhile sacrifice as long as they are able to sustain a reasonable quality of living for their own families.

Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is a very real phenomenon. It occurs when family caregivers feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and do not have access to the help they need physically, emotionally, or financially. It can result in stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and guilt.

Those who attempt to balance working full-time jobs with providing care for aging family members are more prone to caregiver burnout, especially if they also have family responsibilities of their own to deal with. By putting their careers on hold, family caregivers can reduce their responsibilities so they can focus on helping their loved ones without creating a situation that is rife with stress and fatigue.

Career Disturbances

The choice to put a career on hold can have lasting consequences for some caregivers. Those who work in competitive fields need to stay on top of industry changes while they are out of the workforce to avoid problems when they return to work. Not all family caregivers are threatened by career disturbances, though.

Unless they work in competitive industries, most workers can return to similar positions a few months or years down the line. Just make a point of explaining the gap in employment on resumes. Most hiring managers will view the choice to prioritize the health and wellbeing of elderly family members as a positive character trait and, as long as the worker will be able to commit to returning to work on a full-time schedule, will be happy to help.

The Bottom Line

The question of whether adult children should quit their jobs to care for aging family members does not have a black and white answer. For many, leaving work to provide care is an immensely fulfilling decision. For others, the threat of financial loss or the loss of personal identity that comes along with quitting a job can be too much. Give plenty of thought to the available options before quitting.

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