Quitting Your Job to Care For Your Elderly Parent
Thinking about cutting back your hours, or even leaving your job, so you can take care of your aging parent? Have you looked at your family income and decided that becoming a more involved caregiver will be do-able? Before you make the leap, do you have the answers to these important questions?
Moving from full time employment to part-time, or not working at all, will not affect just your current income. It will affect your retirement, and maybe your spouse's retirement, as well. Given our present employment climate, you won't be able to count on easily returning to the workplace when your caregiving days are done.
1. Do you have credit card or other debt that you will have to pay off? Will you be able to pay off any new credit card charges at the end of every month, so you don't increase the amount of credit card debt you owe?
2. Will you have health insurance if you leave your current work? If you are covered by a spouse's work insurance, how reliable is your spouse's employment? You will probably be eligible for Medicare or other retirement health insurance at age 65. If you won't have insurance through your job or your spouse's job, will your health allow you to purchase private coverage, and will you be able to afford the monthly premiums until you are 65?
3. If the answers to #2 above are "no" and "no," instead of leaving your job would you be able to work fewer hours and still maintain health insurance?
4. If your employer has a pension plan, are you fully vested? Would you lose your future pension benefits if you left now?
5. Do you have a 401K plan at work? Is your employer contributing? If you leave your job, can you afford to continue contributing to your 401K?
6. If you are planning to apply for early Social Security, have you calculated how much monthly income you will lose by not waiting until your full retirement age? Sometimes you can hire caregiving help for less than the amount you would lose by taking early retirement.
7. Have you taken the rate of inflation into account? An income that is adequate today will have less purchasing power in the years ahead. Economic indicators show that high inflation is to be expected in the coming years. Inflation will not only affect the cost of basic necessities such as food, shelter, utilities, transportation and clothing. State and local sales, income and property taxes will inevitably rise, as well.
8. Do you have a cash emergency fund that would enable you to comfortably pay your bills for at least six months if your spouse lost his or her job?
9. Will you be able to maintain your residence on a reduced income? Have you made all necessary repairs, and do you have a financial cushion for the repairs and maintenance you haven't anticipated? If you rent, have you included the cost of future rent increases in your calculations?
When you have the answers to these questions take a critical look at your options. If you realistically aren't able to cut back your hours or stop working entirely in order to care for your elderly loved one, look into your other caregiving options. There are several informative articles and resources right here on this site.
"My Office" image by Dave Morris