Is it ever a good idea to quit our jobs to care for our parents?

What about getting fired due to calling out because the caregiver cant come? When my husband and I moved out of the city and up to the high desert area, it was to care for his mother, his father had just passed away. We live about 50 to 60 miles from Downtown. All was good, we both got jobs at the local casinos. Casinos can be a blessing and a curse. They are open 24 hours so shift work is the way things go. I used to work full time, but when Mom came to live with us she was not well. She had just had small strokes and could not live alone. I was exhausted most of the time caring for her and working so I cut my hours down to 3 days a week. I found a lady in the area ( L ) and she became my first caregiver so I could go to work. She was with us for a year before she found another job that had Health Insurance. Then I needed another caregiver, I found ( A ). She is my current helper. She is older that my first helper, and she does not have great health. She has gone to the hospital by ambulance 3 times in the past year. She is in the hospital again right now. Also, she is religious and cant work on Thursdays and Sundays. That doesn't help me when I can and do work those days.
I contacted an Agency for In Home Care. There is one lady ( S )that can work for me, is close to my area, except that she has other agencies that she works for and other clients too. Now, let me explain that since I am part time I no longer have a set schedule. I can work the morning shift one day and swing (6pm to 2;30am) the next. I called the agency with my new schedule on Monday and they called this worker to see if she was available for Friday and Saturday. She said yes, but then today the agency called and said that she is not able to work those days for me. I am getting frustrated again because I don't know from one week to the next if I can work or not. Also, for the Holidays the rate is time and a half. So that means $30 plus an hour.
My husband works the graves shift and sleeps during the day, then goes to work. This means for mom that she will be alone from 10pm until 2 or 3 AM when I get home. My husband will feed her dinner, help her to bed, give her meds. She has Dementia but does not wander. She hardly gets up except to use the bathroom. I don't want to leave her alone, but its only 3 days or nights. I hope things will go ok.
I did some calling on Residential Home Care. Boy are they expensive. I talked to a really helpful lady about her home and was about to set up a tour when I realized that I hadn't asked her price. She said $4500 a month. I bout fell off my chair! One home that I did visit was a fairly decent home, run by a family and they wanted $3000 a month for a private room. That is way toooo much for Moms budget. So I guess Im venting, but what are other people experiencing while caring for their parents?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Expert Answer
3930 helpful answers
One of the biggest issues we face if we quit jobs is that when it comes to Social Security we lose big time. If we can quit for a year or two and still keep up our skills, then maybe it will be okay. But many of us have care responsibilities that last many years or even decades. Then, when we try to go back to work because we need the money and can no longer stay home as a full-time caregiver we have gaps in our resumes (as was mentioned). Younger, cheaper employees have taken our places. And as I mentioned, our SS has taken a huge hit.

I think it's great to stay home and I don't regret the years I spent doing so but I can't say it was a "wise" decision. Practicality and our hearts can be at odds. This is just a very hard decision. Whatever choice a caregiver makes, I support it. Just try to think through all of the consequences so you go in with your eyes open.
I quit a job to care for my dad and boy did I ever regret it. After my dad had passed away I had a big gap on my resume and potential employers weren't all that impressed that the gap was the result of caring for an elderly parent for years. I did do volunteer work while caring for my dad and I think that helped offset the damage done by having that gap on my resume.

Once my dad was gone I had a difficult time adjusting to the real world again. My social skills had suffered as well. I felt closed off and ultra sensitive and this made rejoining the work force harder on me. Going back to work was definitely a tough adjustment.

If you feel like you have to quit your job to care for your mom I would suggest that you keep one foot in the work force either by volunteering somewhere or just picking up 1 shift a week. It's very easy to leave the work force. Not so easy to get back in.
The prices you quoted sounded pretty normal. Some people hear them without batting an eye, but I have to be careful with my mother's money. I do want her to have some left if she needs NH care. It is easier to get into a good facility if you have private pay for a while.

I think the only time someone should quit their job to do caregiving is if they can afford to do it. Some people have secure marriages with spouses making a lot of money and a comfortable retirement account. These people may feel fine about quitting their jobs. The rest of us have to keep an eye out for our own security and retirement. So many people make an emotional decision to leave their job, instead of considering other options. Then they regret it on down the line when they have no money, no retirement, and very little SS to depend on. Strange that many of us would never consider doing to our parent what we do to ourselves.
Please do NOT quit your jobs.... I am so glad I still have my career as it is my "sanity" and it is my "vacation" even though I am at the office. I am around other people besides my parents.... around people from all walks of life, there are always smiling faces and lot of laughter.

Please note with dementia, it doesn't get better, it doesn't stay the same, it will only get worse. Your Mom may start to wander, and go through all the other stages of dementia. You would then find yourself needing three Caregivers 8-hours each per day, including weekends and holidays. When it comes to that point, it is time to reflect that Mom now needs to be in a continuing care facility where she would be with Staff who are familiar with all the different stages and know exactly what to do.
No. Never quit your job. You will lose your own Social Security and health insurance.

In my family, my 95 yo mother outlived my sister. (Think of that sister as being you.) What is the plan, if you are no longer able to care for your mom? She will go to 24/7 care, right? Make that happen, now.

My mother is SO much better off at the NH, than she was at home. She has company, health care, balanced meals, baths, clothes. It seems a shame that some families struggle so, to keep a loved one at home.
This is not a black and white issue. I don't agree with many on here who are saying NEVER quit your job under any circumstances. There are many factors that you have to weigh, including your own financial security and how many years of employment you would likely be giving up; ie how close you are to your own retirement. I was in a situation where I was paying out so much for care for my mother while I worked and traveled for a demanding full time job that I figured out it would ultimately be cheaper for me to stay home and care for her. The emotional demands of being pulled in all different directions was too much for me to handle and I had to make a choice. Also, I worry less about SS because I have already worked enough years to expect a decent monthly SS income when I start drawing it. . I agree wholeheartedly with the person who suggested doing volunteer work if you can fit it into your schedule. It gives you structure, keeps your skills sharp and shows ambition to future employers if you need to go back to work at the end of caregiving. This is an extremely personal choice that comes down to what is important to you as an individual. There is no right answer.
If she could afford to pay you for caretaking then strangers, you could see a lawyer to make it a legal agreement written and signed by your mom and lawyer that way medicaid won't come back and want to know where the money went
I quit my job a year and a half ago to take care of my parents, and I haven't regretted it. However, I was originally planning on retirement right about now, but when I left my job I had no intentions of looking for full-time employment again. I also picked up some very enjoyable consulting work during that time that I plan to continue more or less indefinitely. I'm still on COBRA, and also collecting SS so with this and the consulting I have no need to touch my retirement portfolio. The bottom line is that one has to assess his/her own financial situation, and make a decision accordingly. There probably is no "one size fits all", but one must consider all the "what ifs" before quitting a job as it may essentially be an early retirement. Of course I realize many people don't have this freedom.
Dear please do not quit your job. I am single and did the same last year and had a tough time getting back into the workforce however with a huge salary cut.

The past year and a half has made me realize that the problems with aging are not going to go away, if anything our parents are going to be saddled with more health issues as time goes by. And moreover caregiving is extremely draining - my mother has anxiety issues due to vertigo and that anxiety and panic has rubbed off on me as well.

Hence my advise would be to keep your job or any kind of vocation instead of being couped up at home. Your mental well- being is important as well.

Take care and hope things work out for you...

It is far from easy with what you're experiencing. We tried it for 5 years and it got increasingly worse to the point where we now have my dad in a NH. We were wiped out both physically and emotionally.

My cousin gave up her very nice job to take care of her mom and after she passed, my cousin never got anything close to what she had in the workplace again. Think very carefully before you make those drastic changes.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support