Right now, 40 million Americans are doing truly selfless work by serving as unpaid family caregivers for a loved one. About 25 percent of those caregivers are millennials, who often feel forced to choose between their careers and caring for their aging parents and grandparents.
I can relate. When I was in my thirties, my brothers and I cared for our mother throughout her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis. It’s not a role I was expecting to land, it didn’t come with much preparation, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done — and, undeniably, one of the most difficult.
Caregiving for a loved one is a role that millions more Americans will take on in the coming decades — especially with so many baby boomers saying they want to age in place instead of entering retirement homes or care facilities. There are many upsides to being cared for by devoted and well-trained family caregivers, including a reduction in hospital readmissions and a chance for families to bond during a difficult time. But the caregivers themselves often end up paying a high cost, both physically and financially, which is rarely discussed.