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Thursday, 20 September 2018 08:00

Weighing up the costs of caregiving

You may have heard of Hendri Terblanche in recent years- the businessman who rightfully and successfully campaigned for increased paternity leave rights for prospective fathers throughout South Africa.

Well, he is on a new mission and has petitioned parliament to extend similar rights to family caregivers looking after elderly loved ones through South Africa.

At present, most employees are offered a minimal amount of ‘family leave’ days which are most commonly reserved for emergencies. Other than that, employees are forced to take unpaid leave to care for family members in need. If the situation is dire enough, they may need to leave their jobs altogether.

To this end, it’s obvious to see why Hendri Terblanche is appealing to parliament for an extension of these leave days and the availability of unpaid leave offered under the labour law. He has since petitioned parliament to introduce an ‘Elder Care Leave’ clause, allowing for three days paid leave, or 6 weeks unpaid leave to care for an ageing or terminally ill loved one.

While it may not be a financial option to place elderly parents in the hands of professional care, is a mere six weeks of unpaid leave enough to ensure frail, ill or cognitively impaired loved ones receive the care they need?

This is where the costs of caregiving need to be carefully weighed

Becoming a primary caregiver for an elderly parent is a huge responsibility, and one that cannot be made lightly – especially if your career is a priority or you are a primary breadwinner.

Some of the most significant questions to ask yourself before taking on the responsibility of caregiving, versus placing an ageing parent in home care include:

  • Do I have the space and facilities in my home to support them?
  • If not, what amendments will need to be made and what cost?
  • Do I have the time, resources, support and finances to take on the responsibility of becoming a primary caregiver?
  • Will my company support this decision and what kind of leave allowances are offered to me?
  • Is my spouse supportive of this decision and will they be able to help where needed?
  • How will my children react to the presence of a frail or seriously ill loved one in their home?

While there is a myriad of things to consider when working a full-time job and considering primary caregiving, one thing must be made a priority- and that is your own peace-of-mind. Will the potential strain of full-time caregiving be worth saving money on professional care? Or will the cost of professional care outweigh the stresses of full-time caregiving, and potentially your career?

The decision is not an easy one; you will need to balance the pros and cons of both options and ultimately, weigh up the costs of personal caregiving versus professional caregiving. 
 

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