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Who should pay for one family member to act as caregiver to parents?
Old 12-07-2014, 02:07 PM   #1
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Who should pay for one family member to act as caregiver to parents?

I doubt I am able to be objective (at least yet), but if you have insights or good resources to suggest it could be very helpful. I thought there was a thread on this in the past few years, but I can't seem to find it using search (I prob haven't found the right search terms).

Parents are both alive 92yo, at home, but really starting to struggle. Neither of us live near parents. Sister has volunteered for several years to move closer and act as caregiver, but parents keep saying not yet. [I'm afraid they'll wait too long, and then expect her to drop her career and move immediately, but that's another topic.] Parents are fiercely independent as you might imagine, they want to pass in their sleep without ever having outside help, but...

Sister is single, renting, and still working - seems to think she's nearly FI but that may be a little optimistic. Presumably she'd have trouble finding a new job at age 66, and she'd planned to work until age 70, so she'd be sacrificing some if not all income for 4 years. So she will lose income, and have moving expenses to deal with.

Sister is willing to move into the house, but parents don't want sister in the house, want her to have an apartment nearby.

Understandably they don't want sister to get hurt financially (neither do I), and force her to move and end her career 4 years early. Though they could move themselves into assisted living and/or hire more in-home help so sister could continue her career where she is now.

Parents can easily pay all her expenses/income for as long as they live, they've told us so over and over. However, Dad has decided that I need to pony up to pay for sisters expenses, to what extent he hasn't made clear.

It almost seems a fairness issue with Dad, so I am wondering if I should just suggest they pay, and write me out of their will so sister comes out (way) ahead financially.

I can argue both sides (and will in subsequent posts if necessary), though I am a little put off by my Dad's stance, after being assured for years that money wasn't going to be a problem (and it isn't for them).

Sorry if TMI, but I wasn't sure what might be pertinent. I want to be compassionate, but objective? Unfortunately I may be having a tough time separating the financial options from what's right/fair?

Any insights would be most welcome.
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:22 PM   #2
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Difficult problem. Aging, money and family relations.

Seems like determining if your parents rally have the money to pay is the salient issue.

If they have the money, then seems reasonable to just have them and her agree to a fair/generous level of compensation. Leave you and the will out of it -- essentially the assets are just transferring to her before your parents pass away and then the remainder of the estate can be divided according to your parents wishes. I think you paying your sister would introduce a strange family vibe (I know it would in my family.)

If the real issue is that your folks don't have the money to pay for care (from your sister or otherwise) then it really is a question of how your family pays for this. In that case both and your sister should notionally be on the hook for equal amounts of financial support. If your sister prefers to pay with time rather than money, that's a valuation discussion.

Probably good to know what just hiring care on the outside would cost so you have a reference point as to value.

My $0.02. Good luck.
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:31 PM   #3
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Your parents are reluctant to let go of their independence (understandable) but want to maintain total control of the situation (selfish and unrealistic); the timing of their daughter's move to their area, insistence that she not share their home, offloading the responsibility of compensating for the economic impact on her onto you.

Don't get me started on the gender bias in caring for aged parents. Why should your sister be saddled with this, and not you? I think your parents' demands are unreasonable. They need to realize that compromise is not a four letter word. Time for a family conference, preferably with a case coordinator in elder care.
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:36 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear of your situation, Midpack.

There are enough complexities here that I tend to agree with Meadbh's suggestion for a family conference with an elder care specialist. Sometimes having a non-family member make suggestions / propose solutions helps everyone to come to better decisions.

Since you are retired, is there a reason why you are not volunteering to move and be the caregiver?
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Sister has volunteered for several years to move closer and act as caregiver, but parents keep saying not yet.

Parents can easily pay all her expenses/income for as long as they live, they've told us so over and over. However, Dad has decided that I need to pony up to pay for sisters expenses, to what extent he hasn't made clear.

I am wondering if I should just suggest they pay, and write me out of their will so sister comes out (way) ahead financially.
I've been through similar situation(s). Being a caregiver is no cakewalk but I don't know why your father thinks you should pay for any of your sisters expenses, since it sounds like they have the financial means and she has volunteered. If your sister is going to come out "way ahead" financially if you are out of the will, then what's the problem from a monetary perspective?
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:13 PM   #6
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Midpack, that's a tough situation.

A few things are not clear, beginning with what kind of assistance do your parents need and is your sister qualified to provide that assistance. If your sister leaves her job to relocate and help out, is that the best option for your folks, and does it make sense financially?
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:15 PM   #7
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It sounds to me that your parents are trying to be "fair" by distributing the costs of their care. Your sister pays a time-cost and you pay the financial costs. I don't think their solution is wise, bit I can understand the impulse.

If they can afford to pay all your sister's expenses, perhaps they can pay for a local caretaker to help them out a few hours each day.You and your sister could help coordinate that care.

Otherwise, a set of facilitated discussions seem like a good idea. Your parents can ask for what they want and need. You and sister can each share what you are willing to do, and not do.

At the intersection of those things is your solution.

But if you're looking for a second opinion on your reaction - here is mine: I would not pay for a sibling's living expenses. Sounds like a quagmire.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:17 PM   #8
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It seems clear to me that if I were in your shoes (and at one time I was), the only good answer is to retain an elder-law attorney and have a good conversation between the attorney, your sister, and you. At this meeting you can determine what options are possible, and rank order them in preference.

The second step would be a second conference with your parents present. Lay out the scenario, with the "expert" present to back you up. Then give them a reasonable amount of time to consider it.

Third step is the next conference, again with all parties present. Here you can make the actual necessary decisions.

Tough love, but believe me it's worth it. In the end, everyone should be able to get a solution they can live with.

I could go on about the recommended options, but I don't know anything about you or your family so that wouldn't be useful to anyone. The three steps above are the framework.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:30 PM   #9
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I really appreciate the replies so far, I am sure I'm not seeing all POVs on my own.

Just answering questions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by krotoole View Post
Seems like determining if your parents rally have the money to pay is the salient issue.
They've shared all their finances, they're out of the market, living on less than military pensions/SS, and their present nest egg (they're still adding to it) is still more than 20X their expenses of they had no income.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
Don't get me started on the gender bias in caring for aged parents. Why should your sister be saddled with this, and not you? I think your parents' demands are unreasonable. They need to realize that compromise is not a four letter word. Time for a family conference, preferably with a case coordinator in elder care.
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Originally Posted by MBAustin View Post
There are enough complexities here that I tend to agree with Meadbh's suggestion for a family conference with an elder care specialist. Sometimes having a non-family member make suggestions / propose solutions helps everyone to come to better decisions.

Since you are retired, is there a reason why you are not volunteering to move and be the caregiver?
Sister volunteered without being asked years ago, and still maintains she's willing and able. Again, she's single and rents, not a reason I realize. I am ER, but DW is still working and we own a home 1200 miles from parents. Instead of letting sister follow through, should I temporarily leave DW for the unknown months/years our parents require help or make DW quit, sell our house and move 1200 miles? Not trying to be a wise guy, those are the options?

And Mom doesn't even know what Dad is up to, and he'd be furious if we asked her. I know because Dad proposed this in Mar, we told Mom, and she lowered the boom after sister and left. Wasn't resolved then, just tabled it now appears. Messed up, but it is what it is.

If we met (I've already suggested same), they'd be outraged at having a "stranger" involved, expert or not. Not going to happen.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:35 PM   #10
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The "really starting to struggle" comment is the key. It may be time for your parents to get evaluated for independent and assisted living. They won't like that. Having been involved with my wife's parents, the worse they are the louder they will chant "we want to stay in our home." Once they need a certain level of support, one of their children interrupts their own life to dedicate themselves full time to providing the needed assistance. I think its the most selfish thing a parent can do to a child. My in-laws were in some sort of care for over a decade.

Loving SIL thought it would be wonderful if DW and I would have moved into their parents home to care them. It was financially and medically impossible but it doesn't keep wacky family relationships from developing. In the background are parents not wanting to be in an old folks home.

Rant over, I think you father is throwing out a smoke screen to slow the process or kill it completely. The question is are they fit to care for themselves. Could they care for themselves in independent living situations or are they ready for assisted living. The next question is can your parents afford assisted living?

Having your sister move into an apartment is waste of effort. If they really need help, she needs to be there to help. That "help" could drag on for a decade or longer. The key is to get them evaluated.

Who has a durable power of attorney? Do any of you actually know your parents' financial situation? Is there someone that could convince your parents to get evaluated for their capability level?

edit:

I was typing while you posted your post just above mine. I expect a train wreck. They appear to be fully committed to having one and there isn't much you can do about it without their help unless you want to have them ruled incompetent. I sounds like they are legally competent but think if they can ignore a problem it will go away.

A repeat - does someone have a durable and medical power of attorney for when the train wreck occurs?
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Car-Guy View Post
I've been through similar situation(s). Being a caregiver is no cakewalk but I don't know why your father thinks you should pay for any of your sisters expenses, since it sounds like they have the financial means and she has volunteered. If your sister is going to come out "way ahead" financially if you are out of the will, then what's the problem from a monetary perspective?
The existing will/trust is sister gets the house and remaining assets divided 50:50. Since I retired early, Dad evidently thinks we must be "loaded" relative to sister, and we probably are.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:41 PM   #12
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A few things are not clear, beginning with what kind of assistance do your parents need and is your sister qualified to provide that assistance. If your sister leaves her job to relocate and help out, is that the best option for your folks, and does it make sense financially?
They already have yard care, pool care, weekly maid and a handyman on call. They will probably lose their licenses next year, sister has suggested hired drivers.

But you raise a good point, what comes next help wise may be beyond sister, despite her good intentions.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
It seems clear to me that if I were in your shoes (and at one time I was), the only good answer is to retain an elder-law attorney and have a good conversation between the attorney, your sister, and you. At this meeting you can determine what options are possible, and rank order them in preference.

The second step would be a second conference with your parents present. Lay out the scenario, with the "expert" present to back you up. Then give them a reasonable amount of time to consider it.

Third step is the next conference, again with all parties present. Here you can make the actual necessary decisions.

Tough love, but believe me it's worth it. In the end, everyone should be able to get a solution they can live with.

I could go on about the recommended options, but I don't know anything about you or your family so that wouldn't be useful to anyone. The three steps above are the framework.
Sounds like good advice, I'll have to think it over. Not sure how sister will react.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:43 PM   #14
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If I were the OP I would just remove myself from the equation. He is under no obligation to involve himself. His parents have three choices, either pay their daughter to help so they don't have to be taken care of by strangers, hire an at-home aide as much as is needed, or move to an assisted living home. They can afford any of those options and non of them have anything to do with the OP.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:46 PM   #15
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Your parents should pay for their care if they have the money. They would if they hire in-home help, the fact it's your sister/you is irrelevant. So they should pay the caregiver (your sister), you should not pay her.

I do think your sister is taking on a huge amount of work, and realistically she will need to have your parents hire supplementary help, even when she is there.
Personally, if their place is large enough, it would be better for your sister to live there, as she will quickly see the dementia signs, etc.

It may be much easier to have parents move to a supported independent living location, where the things like bath/shower are set up for very old folks, as your sister at 66 will be unable to lift dad/mom out of a bathtub.

How about having part-time assistance for them now, example would be meals on wheels type arrangement, who is mowing the lawn or doing the laundry right now?
How about a house keeper to come in a clean once a week.

Is there any social work/elder care organization near your parents that you could use as a resource for ideas and connections to other services or vetted workers ?

This is a tough issue to deal with, it's good you are thinking about it now as it can be thought over months. But one slip/fall and a broken hip means decisions in days.

edit:

I was typing while many folks posted and you responded, so some you have already answered here.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:48 PM   #16
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A repeat - does someone have a durable and medical power of attorney for when the train wreck occurs?
Yes, will, trust, advanced directives, MPOA, etc. all done years ago. Thankfully parents did all that right, and they've shared all the details in writing with us more than once. We are grateful. But they're still competent, just 92 yo bodies...
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:57 PM   #17
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They already have yard care, pool care, weekly maid and a handyman on call. They will probably lose their licenses next year, sister has suggested hired drivers.

But you raise a good point, what comes next help wise may be beyond sister, despite her good intentions.
It just seems to me there are two separate matters here. One is care of parents, the other family dynamics.

Regards care of parents, it really helps to get an assessment from a senior care professional. Many home care nursing specialists are qualified to do this. Medicare may even pay it, if not, it is a very worthwhile expense. You may be surprised at how much (or little) care they really need, but it will be defined in a very precise way. This gives you a critical base that you can use to build a care plan.

In my experience, as family dynamics become more intense, the role of outside professionals becomes more valuable and crucial to a successful outcome.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:02 PM   #18
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92 is pretty old to be still independent in your own home. What is their health like and what will happen if your parents decline further and your sister is unable to care for them. Perhaps your parents should indicate how they would like that scenario to be handled.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:20 PM   #19
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For elderly well off (or so it seems is this case) parents to insist that two adult children split the cost of their assistance seems incredibly controlling to me. It would seem your sister could make this move and provide care, is willing to do so, and they could keep her whole through their assets. Are they demanding your participation as support for her, or because at the heart of it they want to hold on to their assets for as long as they can? In either case, or for whatever reason it may be, it's not reasonable as I would view it.

You have my greatest sympathy. Having dealt with similar issues (well, similar in that we've dealt with an unreasonable elder needing care, but different in that there is no money and we are splitting with DW's brother) my greatest hope as I age is that neither my wife nor I become a burden as we age. I do NOT want my children to harbor the ill will my MIL has generated in her following generation.
And no, it's not the money. It's the lack of any appreciation whatsoever for the time, money, and lost opportunity we have given. I guess I just had to add this as I find the dealing with unreasonable elders issue one that has shadowed our lives for 8 years now. Best of luck with your issues. I know financially you can shut it all down and let your sister take all the burden and the estate remainder, but few want to end family relationships that way...
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:01 PM   #20
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If your parents need help your sister will not be able to meet their needs without living in their home. They will need assistance at any moment at any time.

If they don't need help at any moment at any time then a home health worker who comes several times a week to help them bathe and set-up meds should work for a while. One fellow in my building has a gal who comes in several times a week who prepares meals for him. Your parents could hire a person to come in daily to help with meals and that person could see that they are taking their meds as prescribed.

Frankly by the time your parents say they need your sister's help their needs will be more than she can manage, at least that is my observation of my family dynamics. They will need assistance getting in and out of bed, assistance with bathing, help getting in and out of chairs.. not for the untrained or frankly a woman of your sister's age.
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