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Reply with quote  #1 
I am so glad I found this site.  My father handled everything financial and trained me so when he died a year ago I took over and have no regrets for having done so.  I pay bills, do taxes, and handle investments.  I also drive mom to doctor appointments and grocery stores the majority of time. Additionally, she lived in my home for 4.5 months while recuperating from a hospital stay after having stayed in my sister's home for a month.  She went back to her own home May 1st.  I do have a brother and sister who were in agreement that I take care of financial matters.  They seem to be minor players when it comes to assuming responsibility for mom even though all of us work full time, have families, and challenges in our own lives.
I feel that I am shouldering most of the responsibility and I don't find this arrangement to be fair (yes, I know that nothing in life is fair) given that we get equal shares upon her death.  I know that it would cost money to have a third party do what I am doing so I want to find out what is reasonable financial compensation for having my mother in my home for 4.5 months and for doing everything else I do?

Where can I go to find this info?

Reply with quote  #2 

I sincerely understand what you are saying about the compensation. Have been in the exact same situation caring for a relative that you are currently in.  There isn't an easy solution to it.

My suggestion is, dont look back now. The 4.5 months she was in your home are over and done with. Dont expect to be back compensated for that.  Just go forward and plan for what may happen in the future.

Next time you are needing to care for her in your home, write up an agreement before hand of how you are going to be compensated for the time, care and board of her in your house.  (take into consideration if she is also paying rent or a mortgage elsewhere and will be going back to her own place, or if your house is becoming her permanent residence.  I see nothing wrong with having an elderly relative pay for rent and care in your home-- otherwise their monthly checks are going into savings to be split evenly among siblings (if I am making sense here).

If you are wanting to be currently compensated for running her around to appointments, maybe look at what agencies would charge-- typically maybe $20/hr plus cost for transportation.  See if that is really what you want to do (charging her for this time). If you are starting to resent the time it takes you to do these errands, then set up with a homecare service to provide these type of things for her --- will be easier then you feeling like you are being taken advantage of.
 When I did that all for my mom (plus the bills), I never thought about getting reimbursed for that.  It was just kind of something I was glad to do for my mom.  But if I was taking a relative into my home and caring for them 24/7, that would be a totally different story.  
Do what feels right for you in your current circumstances, I'm not judging you or saying it is wrong to take the compensation. Everyone's situation is different and you need to do what is best for your situation.   Get the cost in your area for providing this service, then sit down and discuss it with your mom and siblings (if possible).

Reply with quote  #3 
Unfortunately the societal model, the 'generational contract', that most of our middle class parents were raised with was that the grown women in the family took care of the elderly for no formal compensation, and then the parents in turn left their life savings to their children. So many people our parents' ages ... especially the ones who were stay-at-home ladies who never conducted business with outsiders ... have no modern reference points for fair compensation for services rendered. There's a vast difference between the old days of various extended family members pitching in to check on 'grandma', cooking and cleaning a bit, for a few years when she became too feeble ... and today when most of the time it is one sole middle-aged gal, often employed full time, running herself ragged to take care of an elderly parent with a host of different doctors and specialists prescribing a seemingly endless list of medications and procedures. Doing all kinds of banking and taxes and property management that weren't an issue back in grandma's days. Because this parent expects free help from family to retain most of his or her adult lifestyle in 2010 in his or her private home -- a far cry from making a pot of soup for 'grandma'. And this parent will likely live a good 20+ years longer than 'grandma' did. Plus there will usually be no financial windfall at the end of the road to make the caregiver whole and to help the caregiver plan for her own old age; the explosion in eldercare and healthcare costs have seen to it that inheritances for the middle class are largely a thing of the past. 

Any way to communicate that to your elderly parent? I have never succeeded, but then my mother is exceptionally self absorbed. My compensation for all the work I have done and continue to do for her is my so-called 'inheritance,' which will most likely be gone by the end of her life. I tried to tell her a couple times that I would prefer to be given an small stipend every month but nothing doing. So I do what I do because I care and because I choose to. I've had to make my peace with that. And since I am a working gal who has to have an income to live ... the lack of pay means I also have to be cautious about how much time I allot for mother's business. I am not a bottomless well. This is just one of many 'hard truth' reasons why I balked at providing care for my parent in my home. As expensive as IL/AL is for her, having eldercare become a full-time unpaid job for me would be economically impossible. And like I said, the money is going to get spent sooner or later with what things cost now; at least this way we both have some independence for a few more years.

Reply with quote  #4 
I am taking care of my husband's step-father. We moved into his home so he would be able to live here as long as possible without going into assisted living or nursing home care. My concern is that he has plenty of money to compensate me for my time and help cleaning his home, making his meals, putting up with cleaning the toilet multiple times a day. But he has never offered me anything but $20.00 since we've been here and it's been over 3 months now. I am unemployed and don't even have money for gas let alone paying for the car I had to purchase before my unemployment ran out in April.  My husband is therefore paying for my car and he is getting angry that I don't have the money to do it. He wants me to apply for full time jobs in addition to the full time job I have caring for his step-father. I'm very frustrated, I'm in pain all of the time because of a serious back injury. I just don't know where to turn.

My husband's step-father must not be able to smell anymore because he hardly showers except when he wants to, so I have to put up with the smell of feces on a daily basis which is awful if I have to walk behind him.  He only changes his underwear maybe twice a week, which are very soiled.  When he does change them after a shower, he puts on the pants he's been wearing daily while having soiled underwear which defeats the whole purpose. I don't know how to bring up this subject, and don't actually feel it is my place to do so.

I have so many problems with this I don't know where to turn.

Does anyone have an answer or even a hint of where to turn, I'm at my whits end here.

Carolyn in PA
Tired Daughter
Reply with quote  #5 
For Stephanie- I agree that things that happened in the past cannot be compensated for.  The current things are a different story.  I would see how much a reasonable charge is- maybe $20/hour?  Find agencies that do the same thing you do.  Get brochures and quotes.  Then, have a meeting with your siblings and your mother.  Tell them you need to start looking for a job to make extra income.  You can either charge for what you are doing for your mother, or you will have to start looking for that job.  Then, present the brochures so they can choose between compensating you or someone else.  Certainly, be polite about it, and offer choices.  If  your family members are doing something for you mother, such as errands, they should be compensated too. 

If they choose someone else to do your job, or one of them takes it on, use that extra time to find something interesting to do outside of caregiving.  You may be much happier in the long run. 

Carolyn- you seem to be trapped in an abusive relationship.  It sounds like you need to find a full-time job, and once you secure your full-time job, tell your husband he needs to split everything equally with you - all the tasks related to the stepfather, house, yard, etc.  If he is unwilling, it may be time for some therapy to decide if you should stay in the relationship.  With a full-time job, you can escape from this nonsense.  If you are injuring yourself taking care of the stepfather, than the division of tasks should take into account this injury. 

Ted B.
Reply with quote  #6 
Reviving this thread because of some things I've learned lately about just this situation.

According to our lawyer, family members can only be compensated up to about 1600/yr for "services rendered" without risking certain legal complications, specifically having the parent be regarded as an "employer" and subject to all the tax and labor laws employers are subject to. 

Now, our parents can gift us up to $13,500 per year without paying a gift tax, but keep in mind that should they need Medicaid at some point, there is a look-back period in which large cash gifts *may* be regarded as asset transfers for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid, and may trigger a period of ineligibility for Medicaid.

I wrote on this board awhile back about a home care arrangement a family member had set up for my wife's mom, and how we were uncomfortable with the setup as it seemed to be a horde of strangers basically controlling my MIL's life.  It turns out that she was paying them cash, under the table, they were not licensed or certified, and the arrangement put her in such a giant hole of legal and financial liability that we were shocked.  We are still trying to extricate her from the situation and it isn't easy--this black market crew manipulated her emotionally to the point where she believed that if they weren't caring for her, she'd end up in the hospital or a nursing home.

Unfortunately, rules governing payment of family members for home care are stringent, and you must be very careful how you go about it (assuming you can even get your parent to pay!)  Certainly consult a competent elder law attorney first, if you can.

Reply with quote  #7 
When I began taking care of my mother, moved her up here to be near us (65 miles away from her home town) and began managing her finances, I, having the POA, was under all kinds of pressure from family back in her home town and her financial 'advisor' at an investment firm to "do the right thing"...which meant do it all for free. So I discussed it with Mom and she offerred to pay me, but she is so low on funds that it just isnt possible. So we agreed that I was to be compensated for my gas and reimbursed for any monies I paid from my own bank account to purchase things for her, including meals for myself and/or my husband when we had to travel to her home town to clean out her house and ect. So far its worked fine. However, when we began paying for her care, her financial guy (back in the hometown) got very upset when he saw how much money was going through her account and accused me of 'skimming'!!  Apparently this person was not aware of how much residential care centers and Assisted Living facilities cost. He even called my brother long distance back east to 'discuss' his suspicions!!

I had already set up online banking by then so I showed my brother the accounts and all my receipts for gas ect. He called the guy back and told him off!! (Yay! Go Bro!!)

Now my brother who is the "golden child" in Mom's eyes does his part by sending my husband and I money every three months or so. So we are being paid in a gift form from him God bless him!! That being said I do not count on this money. What I do is just try to group all her chores together in a two or four hour slot and only stay to certain days or to one or two days per week so that I am getting a lot done in less time.

But if your parent can afford it and has plenty of money, I would say charge between 12.50 and 20.00 per hour, and keep track of time or just work like 4 hour increments if you can to keep it simpler. I see no reason why a parent should not pay a child to give them good quality care. What if you died?? They would then have to pay someone else to do all those things for them that may not care about them at all and they would just become someones paycheck.

I think being honest without guilt is the hardest thing for most caregivers. It's because of the 'entitlement' issue that is never really discussed in families, about free care from children. In this day and age, when everyone must be employed in order to have some form of retirement, I think it is unreasonable for any parent to assume that one or more children will forego there own futures or their own families to give them care without compensation. If my husband didnt have a job that supports us both without me having to work more than very part time I would not do this at all without compensation.  Luckily I can work my work around Mom because I am self employed. Once her house is rented I intend to go back three quarter time and then she will have to depend more on the aides at her AL.
Tired Daughter
Reply with quote  #8 
If your mother is not going to be a candidate for Medicaid- I agree that she should "gift" you the full amount allowed by the IRS.  If you are doing more than the "gift" amount, she should gift your husband, too.  And, if you are doing a crazy amount, she should outright help to pay some of your children's college tuition costs or private school costs (if that is relevant to your situation).

Reply with quote  #9 

We did the same thing with my MIL - we moved in with her so that she wouldn't have to drain her savings to pay for 24hr care etc.  However, we still had bills - there was no way that we could have afforded to just "take care of her".   She pays for her caregiver during the week, and our "rent" is taking care of her on the weekends and at night.   Don't even get me started on how the siblings think this is unfair to her = ugh.  

You cannot get a job and take care of your stepfather.  In your best interest, I think it is better if you get a job pronto and leave the caregiving problems to your husband.   You guys are supposed to be a team, but he doesn't seem to be a team player.  Depending on how the caregiving situation goes (you cannot be expected to do both), if it seems as though he expects you to do both - maybe you need to re-think the marriage part.

I don't work right now - I've been unemployed for a while, but I am looking for work, and believe me,  nothing motivates me more than being in this house with THAT woman, even though I am not taking care of her.  I do take care of her when he is gone, and I do make her dinner before he gets home from work - but he is the main caregiver (she doesn't need that much caregiving though - 7 years ago, it was different).  

Let us know how you are doing.  

Laura :-)
Reply with quote  #10 
I too am in what I feel is situation of unfairness. I live with my mom and do not pay rent. My siblings seem to think that since I do not pay rent, I should be here more than they are to care for her. I don't mind at all giving more time but their sense of fairness is that they are here for approx. 68 hours a week and I should pick up the rest. I tried to explain to them that it means I am responsible for the other 100 hours. I have been doing this for over 5 years now. If I were being paid $10.00 per hour and even deducted my sleep time (approx. 42 hours per week), that would make my rent $620.00 per week. They just give me a dumb look and say "Yeah but this is your home and you do other things here than just take care of Mom". Another comment that was made is that after they have been here for their time, they still have to go home and take care of things there. I told them that I do this every day here too. I also work 6 days a week. I love being able to be here for mom, but what I can't seem to get across to them is that when I am here, I cannot leave. My kids and grand kids have suffered greatly because of this. I have had to miss so much of their lives already because I am expected to be here.
One of the siblings suggested that maybe we could pay someone to come in to help. Not sure if they understand the stupidity of this or not (to pay someone else but not to pay me). I am about to suggest that we all keep track of our time with mom and when she passes, we could all be paid out of the inheritance for the time we put in. I would be willing to reduce my amount by deducting a fair amount for rent.
I know I can't do much about the past 5 years but I need to have some sort of plan for the future. Any ideas out there?  

Reply with quote  #11 
Your situation sounds so familar to mine. There needs to be caregiver's rights too. I take care of both parents alone. I moved in 5 yrs ago after a divorce. I have a daughter and I felt this was the best place to go at the time. My mom had health problems however it got worse on Christmas eve when she had kidney failure. It took months for her to recover. I took family medical leave however that ran out after 6 or 8 weeks. I left my job because I needed to be here 24/7. I took care of her because I was there and I felt it was the right thing to do and so did my sisters and parents.I have three sisters, one lives in washington, one in northern calif and the other 15 minutes away. The one that lives 15 minutes has been her maybe 20 times but that including holiday get togethers. The one that lives in washinton has come down a couple times n has kept them for 3 weeks. The one in northern calif has come down here the most and she helps with finances. However none of them seem to grasp the whole picture. My problem is I need help after doing this for this long it becomes depressing and at times I just want to leave. And not because of my parents but because I want my sisters to see what it would be like if I was gone. My sister's talk about the rent thing as well and I start thinking if we had to pay someone 20 dollars hr for only 8 hrs That would be 160 a day 4800 a month and if I'm here 24/7 I think they need to stop complaining. I am trapped because I have been out of workplace for so long it would be hard to get a job. I tried many times and then something else happens with parents. My dad was just recently dianosed w prostate cancer. He has parkinson's as well. I can go on all night long...I have so many people here that get angry for me because of the situation. I do have friends and neighbors that help me. All my sister do is attack me with my flaws and they focus on everything but my parents.Now my mom just went in hospital for kidney failure again (she'll be 87 in few days) and the sister that lives 15 minutes away has seen her once and my mom has been in hospital for almost a month. It's sad for my mom and It makes it hard on me as well because my dad has dr appointments etc and I have 11 year old daughter. I tried to start doing something for my future and went to college last semister.But now I don't know what to expect when my mom does come home.I'm sorry to be rambling on and on but it is upsetting and frustating for it always to fall on me and then to not get the loving support I need from my family. All they do is either complain @ things that are irrailvent to the situation. They act like I'm having the time of my life. b/c I don't have a real job..when in fact this the hardest job I've ever done. They don't have a child/children to take of as well. In retrospect I would have done a contract with my family regarding everything from finanical to sharing the responsiblities. I just never thought in a million years it would be like this with my family. They all made promises..empty empty promises. . But I feel bad for them because they will live the rest of their lives with regret..or maybe not who knows.The only regret I have is believing in them. It is so unfair to all the caregivers on here to be treated like their time has no value and it is unfair to the parents who don't have all their children there to value their time left.
Reply with quote  #12 
Caregivers, as in family members, who provide services should be compensated at LOCAL market value.

Also our government should allow
the caree to pay towards old age insurance for the caregiver without income tax or medicaid consequences. An arrangement like this would encourage more people to purchase this insurance, it would send a message that the work we caregivers do has value and it would protect today's care givers from becoming burdens to the state tomorrow.
Reply with quote  #13 
Dear Stephanie, I take care of my mother 24/7 in my home.I had to resign from my job 3.5 years ago in order to care for her.Of course though, my bills did not stop. So I am writing to say that I receive $1200.00 twice per month. (You don't even want to know how little that breaks down to per However, this is my compensation... and I feel that it is fair for the most part. I read that you wanted to know an actual amount, so I wrote to tell you. I also do not feel guilty about it at all. It is less than half of my mom's monthly income and she would need a fulltime caregiver even if I wasn't around. Also FYI, the DCF thinks that this amount is perfectly reasonable. The bottom line is I already gave up my employment, lost 3.5 years of putting into retirement and my health insurance, and live on a strict budget... I was not willing to also go bankrupt!
I also agree with Prodigal that we are socialized to think that we will get an inheritance if we care for our parents in their old age... but with the laws they way they are now... if your parent needs a facility later... Medicaid will take it all (all the way down to $2000) before they start paying one penny for a nursing home. So with this in mind, I feel we may as well be compensated for the caregiving position now. (Everyone else who studies to become a CNA or nurse is paid for their work!)
Equality is also right - use fair local market value!! and...Anne has an important point too - create a written agreement, and have all parties sign. Hugs,  ~jscarbo
Reply with quote  #14 

It helps having a place to air my complaints. Thanks for the feedback. New development in my situation. One sister got sick and called to inform me she would not be able to come over to care for Mom. i firmly told her that she needed to contact the other siblings and not assume that I was the 'go to guy' just because I live here. I work 6 days a week but because I am self employed, they all assume it's OK for me to stay home. This happens all the time, if it snows, if they have car trouble, if they have appointments to keep, if they go on vacation etc. I plan to tell them that if they can't be here for their day, and we have to pay someone to take their place, then I expect this amount to be deducted from their inheritance.  Maybe they will think twice. If I get their agreement, I plan to get it in writing. Does this sound like a fair plan?

Reply with quote  #15 
Yes Su, fair enough, but you must know it won't fly with them at all. You must protect yourself, stand firm, be a B if need be, to protect yourself. They most likely will not agree with you, and make you out to be the "bad" kid. Take it from one who is the "bad" kid in my family.
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