26 September 2023
Heads up! If you’re an adult child stepping in to care for your aging parents, you need to read this.
Taking on the role of caregiver for your parents is a major shift in your life. It could mean working less or leaving your job entirely. Even though the care you give your parents is priceless, you still have bills to pay, possibly your own family to support, and your future to think about.
The Price of Caregiving
Taking care of parents involves more than just giving up a paycheck. You might miss out on workplace benefits like sick days and holiday pay. Look, it’s not about turning your parents into a business, but if you sacrifice all your work benefits and only work for your parents without sufficient compensation, you could be putting your own financial future and health at risk.
The Hidden Costs
Returning to work after a break for caregiving can be tough. You might find yourself earning less than your peers who didn’t take time off, similar to the challenges faced by parents returning to work after maternity or paternity leave.
The Solution: Compensation
If you’re caring for your parents, you should be compensated. Here are some ways:
Government Programs: Some states, like Washington, offer programs like the Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) and the Community Options Program Entry System (COPES) that provide financial support for caregivers.
Estate Equity: If your parents own property or other assets, these could be used to pay you for your caregiving services.
Direct Pay: If your parents have savings, they could decide to pay you directly.
Insurance: Some people have “long-term care insurance” that can help pay for caregiving services.
How to START – Presenting the Caregiver Contract
Navigating the conversation around a caregiver contract could feel awkward or challenging. However, having a structured approach can make it easier. Here are some suggestions:
Open the Dialogue: Start by acknowledging the emotional weight of the situation. Reinforce your love and commitment to your parents’ well-being. Express that the contract is not about commodifying their care but maintaining clarity and transparency. Remember, it’s not just about financials but also about defining the scope of care and setting boundaries that can prevent caregiver burnout.
Present the Benefits: Highlight the benefits such a contract brings. It guarantees a clear understanding of your responsibilities, offers financial stability for you, and ensures they are well taken care of. It also protects against potential legal disputes in the future, particularly with other family members who might raise concerns.
Involve a Neutral Third Party: If you feel the conversation could be challenging, consider involving a neutral third party like a lawyer or a family mediator. They can explain the legal aspects and help emphasize the contract’s importance.
Be Patient and Understanding: This could be a tough conversation for your parents. They might feel uncomfortable or guilty about the idea of paying their child for their care. Reiterate that it’s a standard procedure and assure them that it’s for the best for both parties involved.
Remember, a caregiver contract isn’t a sign of distrust or greed; it’s a tool for clarity and protection. The goal is to provide the best care for your parents while also taking care of yourself.
Why a Lawyer?
A caregiver contract isn’t just paperwork; it’s a safeguard for everyone involved. For caregivers, it guarantees rights and remuneration. For clients or families, it acts as a shield against potential neglect or other issues. Having a lawyer draft or review this document ensures clarity—every role, responsibility, duty hour, and compensation detail is laid out unequivocally, minimizing future disagreements. It is important for the caregiver and the family to be able to consult an attorney, jointly or separately, as if just one side visits an attorney and drafts the documents, the other side may not be protected, and it creates possible challenges undoing the protection and clarity you intended.
Remember, it’s okay to be paid for the work you do caring for your parents. It’s a big job and a crucial one. If you choose this path, talk openly with your parents and other family members, and make sure everything is spelled out in a caregiver contract.
If you want more than just information – if you’re seeking a supportive network of experts, professionals, and fellow adult children caring for aging parents who understand your journey – join the ‘Adult Children with Aging Parents‘ today. Here, you’ll find the dialogue, guidance, and connection you need to navigate your caregiving path successfully. Don’t face this important journey alone; be a part of our caregiving community.
About the Author
Liz Johnson of Liz Ann Johnson Elder Law, PLLC is a licensed attorney practicing Elder Law in Washington State. With a unique approach to practicing law, Liz combines her legal knowledge with a vibrant personality to make the legal process enjoyable and accessible. Her practice includes Estate Planning, Long-Term Care Planning, Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney, Advance Directives, Probates, and Medicaid Appeals. Liz brings a fresh and energetic perspective to the field, ensuring that clients not only receive legal representation but also have a positive and memorable experience along the way.” https://ajelderlaw.com (253) 340-2193
Warning: Not Legal Advice
The content presented here is not intended to be legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal counsel. Laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction, and the application of laws can vary based on individual circumstances. The accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of the information cannot be guaranteed. Consultation with a qualified attorney is recommended for addressing your specific legal concerns. By accessing or using this content, you acknowledge that it does not create an attorney-client relationship and that the authors and publishers are not liable for any consequences arising from your reliance on the information provided.