Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hire Family as Caregivers

Elizabeth at GenBetween cites an article from Career Journal on paying a family member to provide care for an aging parent. As she says, this would work splendidly in some families and terribly in others.

Marsha Kay Seff
recommends that the primary caregiver have the parents create a contract or agreement covering responsibilities and compensation to avoid problems with siblings, especially those who aren’t helping.

While it may be an ideal situation for the parent, allowing them to stay in their home longer, I see two possible disadvantages, depending on the family situation.

1. I’ve seen the caretaking offspring physically or emotionally abuse the elder. Of course, this can happen just as easily with non-family caregivers, but it’s especially disgusting when abuse happens by a family member. If that abuse also involves control over the parents’ finances, it could get messy.

2. It will reduce the estate, not only making the parents potentially eligible for Medicaid, but also resulting in one sibling getting “more.” In contentious families and those where one sib may need the money more than others, this can work well or terribly. If one sib has had his or her eye on the estate, watching it dissipated to another sib may be more galling than having it paid to a stranger. Sad.

But for families where one sib is bearing the lion’s share, it could be a solution.

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1 comment(s):

Re your point 2:

Of course it will reduce the estate. Being taken care of costs money. It seems to me that siblings who a) expect the caregiving sib to pick up the tab for the whole thing, and b) expect not to have to lift a finger to help either, are not going to be satisfied by any reasonable arrangement for care, whether institutional or family-provided.

If that's the case, the caregiver has to proceed as if the sibs in question don't exist. This will be hard on the parent receiving care, but it probably won't be the first time the family has been rocked by squabbling sibs.

Obviously, it's best if all the sibs can agree on a plan of action for care. It they can't or won't, however, somebody has to make the decisions.

I've been a family garegiver, and I can say with considerable confidence that nobody is getting rich doing it--whether other family members think so or not.

By Blogger pete, at 9:03 AM  

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