For those who celebrate, I hope Halloween festivities offer you a bit of respite from what has been another challenging year. I have many fond memories of Halloween, and appreciate my mother’s efforts in making it special for me as a child. If your health permits, indulge in a piece of candy or sweet treat. It’s amazing what a simple gesture can do for the spirit.
But I cannot let this weekend go by without mentioning how disappointed I am that paid leave has not made the cut so far in the painfully negotiated Build Back Better bill that has paralyzed Congress over the last couple of months. While I’m relieved that home care will receive new funding, America is one of the only countries in the world that does not have some form of paid leave. It’s popular according to surveys, yet moderates are more concerned about the effect on small businesses and the country’s debt, instead of the major sacrifices of individual citizens. In my book, The Reluctant Caregiver, I outline the devastating financial costs that I suffered when as an only child, I found myself being a caregiver for my parents. Six years after my mother’s death, I’ve finally paid off my credit card debt, but I’m hopelessly behind in retirement savings.
The truth is that caregivers who end up in massive personal debt have a negative impact upon the country’s financial stability. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, and credit default can lead to higher interest rates for all, along with tightening mortgage eligibility. Either way, we’re going to have to pay. And that is just the financial cost. Those who do not have access to paid leave often suffer from more health issues, placing a burden on our healthcare system. Being proactive makes more sense than just shrugging one’s shoulders and shirking one’s responsibility to provide practical solutions for fellow citizens.
I am heartened to see so many caregivers sharing their personal caregiving stories. We are no longer an invisible workforce, and we must hold those accountable who continue to ignore the issue.