I haven't followed Celine Dion's career since we both lived in South Florida. No, I don't know her, but we both had some wrought iron work done by the same artisan. At least that's the story he told me. Okay, I did know about her record-breaking stint in Las Vegas, too. What prompted this blog post was her recent decision to cancel her concerts in Las Vegas and her fall tour to be there for her husband and children while she fights an illness herself that has inflamed her throat muscles.
Celine Dion with husband Rene Angelil, 72, who underwent surgery last December to remove a cancerous tumor. © Â RD/ Kabik/Retna Ltd./Corbis
Family first is always the right decision, but not something easily accomplished, even for a star. Dion's advantage is that taking time out to put family first isn't likely to derail or set back her career. Her fans, from the comments I've read on her website, are both incredibly caring and supportive of her decision.
What about other caregivers?
The same can't be said for many caregivers who either have to put their careers on hold or try to juggle taking care of an ailing parent or spouse with family and work responsibilities. A recent MetLife study found that the decision of a woman to leave the labor force early to be a caregiver results in an average wage loss of $142,693, Social Security benefit losses of $131,351 and an estimated loss in pension benefits of $50,000. The study showed slightly lower losses for men, with a combined average of $303,880 for the typical male or female caregiver who is over 50 and cares for a parent. (Celine hasn't turned 50 yet.)
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., recently introduced legislation to provide working caregivers with a tax credit for money they spend on their parents' care so they can continue working. There's not much hope for passage of the bill in the current session of Congress, but the need for a tax break isn't going to go away.
I'm not sure what the best answer is for providing care to seniors who need a caregiver to help them through the day, including assistance with the activities of daily living and companionship. This burden historically has fallen more to daughters, or daughters-in-law, than to sons. The National Council on Aging developed a a free online resource -- www.BenefitsCheckUp.org -- to help seniors pay for food, medicine, housing and even some in-home services via federal, state, local and private programs.
For more on the topic, read Critical resources for family caregivers.
How do we be there for our family without derailing our career and/or retirement? What sacrifices have you made to be a caregiver?
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