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As elder parents reach the point where they need assistance to handle activities of daily living that they can no longer manage, their adult children may face a choice: Do they step in and become their parent’s caregiver, or should they hire outside help?

A primary benefit to providing care themselves is that they can ensure that their elder loved one’s best interests are a top priority. No one is going to want the best for their parent more than they do. It’s only natural. Whereas a paid health services worker might perform admirably, at the end of the day it’s still a job. For adult children caregivers, it’s about family.

While it may be a labor of love, it’s not one without costs.

Money should never become more important than family or health, after all, that’s what money is for. Unfortunately, in reality, financial costs are a huge consideration.

Today, reports tell us that the majority of family caregivers generally work for free. While it might save from paying someone else to provide care, it often ends up costing significant out-of-pocket amounts anyway. Costs can run the full gambit of expenses. According to research by the AARP, family caregivers spend on average about 20 percent of their annual incomes on expenses related to elder caregiving.

If the elder parent has his or her own financial resources, this may be less of a concern. If not, adult children are faced with cutting back on their own spending, which can affect their families and, ironically, retirement savings. Keep in mind that there are significant tax benefits to providing financial support for an elder dependent, and caregivers are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave pursuant to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

The ultimate upside to caring for an elderly parent is that it’s immensely rewarding. Every relationship is different, but no matter what, personally ensuring that mom or dad is getting the care they need is priceless.

Finally, family caregivers must take care of themselves. It’s a tremendous commitment and they don’t have to do everything. Community senior centers, elder daycares, and respite care services are a few of many options for finding a healthy balance.

Remember, a caregiver is no good to their parent if they require care themselves. Do not wait to ask us your elder law questions so that we may help you and your loved ones get the support you need.