financial assistiance needed!

digginweedsOctober 16, 2005

Hi, I have been my 85 year old mother's "caretaker" now for 4 years and am running out of money fast! Especially after putting daughter through college. I tried working part time for a short while until mother began spending the entire day in her bed and getting mopey. She mainly ails from emphysema, and her weight does not help, she is pretty inactive now,so all the house work, cooking, garening and shopping are my job. I hesitate to call myself her "caretaker", because apart form the breathing problems, she is in good health. She takes no meds apart from her inhaler which she is resistant to use. I was wondering if there is any financial assistance programs for caregivers and if so, what are the requirements to qualify.

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You need to contact your local Social Services Department of Family and Children's services. I don't know what it would be called in your state. She should be getting Social Security payments, and it's possible that she would be eligble for additional welfare type payments. For that matter, since you are not working, there may be some sort of state program that will assist you, not as a caretaker, but as a citizen.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 3:32PM
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California is especially hard for state services; they've been cutting back programs all over the place. You'd have better luck getting assistance for help for your mother in her home, like Visiting Nurses, than you will have luck getting paid for the work that you do. Bummer, huh?

If your Mother owns her house, you may want to look into a reverse mortgage. And I highly suggest that you talk to an Elder Care attorney before you do much of anything. Truth is, your Mother may wind up in a nursing home at any time, and you want to be able to protect the home.

Here's a link to an elder care attorney who does a weekly radio show in the Bay Area. He also writes a column on Elder Care for several newspapers, and there's a link on his website to his collected columns. It's a good place to start.

Here is a link that might be useful: Len Tillem

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 3:43PM
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Thank you so much for your responses, that in and of itself is encouraging. We looked into a reverse mortgage a few years ago and after careful scrutiney, decided it was too expensive (start-up costs, interest, and control). Mom is in pretty good financial shape, gets her SS, and has other investment income, so money is not a huge issue for keeping the house going. I am the one who is running out of the greenbacks! One person suggsted mother pay me for the services I give her, but I just can't wrap my brain around doing that, seems contrary to my motives for being here to help her.

I have heard of Lem Tilliam and will check that lead out ASAP, thanks. I know mom would be resistant to any nurse coming right now, she doesn't need a "nurse", more companionship and help around the house. I have been trying to get her involved with a senior group nearby but she isn't the least bit interested in hanging out with a "bunch of old folks". She is a very proud woman to say the least and wants to keep her ageing process private. Oh Well, I can't even talk her into getting her a mobile chair!!!! "It would embarrass her in public".

I have just found an outlet for some income. The senior center spoken of previously, is in need for part time handy people to come and fix things for it's members. I think that will generate enough income to bide me over, but if anyone hears anything, of any program that would fit this situation, bring it up! If I come up with anything, I will certainly post for all to read. I have come to the conclusion that family member caregivers really need some sort of assistance!

Thanks to all,

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 3:25PM
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Look at it this way, if you think that your mother would be able to pay for a nurse, then consider that she should be able to contribute to your upkeep in the same way. Perhaps if you feel hesitant to suggest it yourself, then maybe a family friend, pastor or even your attorney could suggest that since you have no income coming in, that it's to her advantage to see that you don't have to go out and earn spending money.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 4:26PM
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If you're not working because of your mother, there's no reason she can't pay you something for the income she is costing you. She would probably rather do that than to pay someone else to stay with her so you could have a regular job.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 1:05PM
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Your suggestions regarding Mother paying me something for what I do will definitly take some re-thinking since that seems to be the recurring opinion and suggestions. She used to pay a gardener and housekeeper before I came, but they did such a lousy job, I suggested and we decided to let them go, save the money, and I took over which I was happy to do. I hope none of you think I'm a total patsy for my mom, she has been very good to me in a lot of other ways. She won't let me pay for any food, monthly bills etc. I'm just suddenly realizing I'm not paying into my own SS, retirement funds, etc. and have tapped my savings more than I'm comfortable with.

So, My next questions are: Are any of you being paid by your parent/s for what you do? How did that get broached, and what would be a fair and reasonable amount? If I were to base it on what we paid the old help, the total would be in the neigborhood of $250.00/mth. That would cover my rather minor personal monthly bills. I don't know, it just would feel wierd to take a check from her.....

Thank you all so much for your advice, it is getting me to re-thinking my position.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 3:33AM
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The Social Security retirment fund does raise an interesting point. If she were to pay you, you could contribute to SS as self-employed. Put it to her as a business proposition to build up retirement funds for you. I would think that at least 400 a month would be reasonable for the services. If it bothers you, then put all except what you need into a savings account, just in case it may be needed in the future for her care.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 7:59AM
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I have a couple of thoughts...Does she have any long term care insurance? Some of the policies do reimburse for "informal care" ,which is care by family member or friend. Second, in our area the Senior Connections have a program whereby a family can receive a one-time yearly reimbursement of up to $500 for informal care or respite care. There are income parameters for this. Wonder if your Senior Connections has anything like that.
If you are sharing a residence, it might be easier to blend the incomes. Agree that it is a touchy subject. Does she have a power of attorney arrangement with anyone?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 9:31AM
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I am taking care of my 69 year old grandmother for over 3 weeks now who recently got out of the hospital after going thru a triple bypass openheart surgery. I wake up every morning to make her breakfast, give her her pills, take her sugar level. All throughout the day, at noon I feed her lunch. I am with here all day and all night, I had to move in with her because she can not be alone. I can not go out and get a normal job because of her not being capable of being by herself. I want to know if I can get paid for being her caretaker which I know I can because a lot of people have told me that I can, I just dont know how to go about it. Can you please help me findout how I can get paid for being my 69 year old grandmother's caretaker?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 12:13PM
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In Home Support Services might be the program you need, but not everyone can qualify. And I don't know if the program has the same qualifications in all areas, either. But here is a little about it.

It's commonly called IHSS, and it is a federal, state and local program.

Here is a link that might be useful: IHSS

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 2:21AM
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So, My next questions are: Are any of you being paid by your parent/s for what you do? How did that get broached, and what would be a fair and reasonable amount? If I were to base it on what we paid the old help, the total would be in the neigborhood of $250.00/mth. That would cover my rather minor personal monthly bills. I don't know, it just would feel wierd to take a check from her.....

I accept a check monthly from my Mother In Law that lives with me, you bet. We first considered combining funds but decided that would be a bad idea because Medicaid will eventually come into the picture, plus she is fairly distrustful where money is concerned.

When she lived alone she paid $700 a month in rent, so that is the number I first brought up and one we eventually agreed upon. It is a much better deal than rent was because we provide all meals, utilities, transportation, laundry services, etc.

I see it as only fair- if she wasn't here we could do with only one vehicle, and if she wasn't here I would be working outside the home and contributing to the family financially. As I have to be home to care for her (and make sure she doesn't burn the place down) it is fair that she contributes what she can to the family, and money is the only viable commodity she has. She sure can't scrub the floors or shop or cook or help out in any other way.

She bristled a bit initially, but agreed to it and it has worked out very well.

You may choose to sacrifice the bulk of your life to a parent but you deserve some sort of compensation for doing so, especially if being there for her requires you to stop working to support yourself. You have likely also given up friends, hobbies, vacations, and a host of other things that make life an enjoyable experience. It can't all be 100% positive for her and 0% for you- there has to be some sort of balance and money is part of it. Plus- paying for your services will make you more valuable in her eyes.

I mean nothing personal by this next comment, but I am reminded of an old saying- "If you lay down and act like a doormat, don't be surprised if someone wipes their feet on you."

If you don't respect your own time, no one else will. You need at least a small amount monthly to halfway compensate you for your time. It is all well and good to care for an aged parent out of love and altruism, but don't neglect practical matters in the process. It takes money to live, plain and simple.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 12:43PM
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Digginweeds, about ten years ago my mother moved from her home in San Jose to the Sacramento area where I live. At that time I was teaching at a parochial school. She was 83 years old when she moved and made the move in September. Even though she was going to be moving into her own mobile home, I knew there was no way that I could handle my mother's move and starting a new school year at the same time. I also knew that I couldn't work all day, correct papers in the evening, etc., and help my mother. So I quit my job.

My mother knew I quit my job because of her, and she knew she really needed my help. She didn't pay me directly, but she helped me invest in a family business that paid as much or more than I was making as a private school teacher.

Even though she never lived with me, I was and still am her caregiver. I've taken her to all her medical appointments, to church, shopping, restaurants, activities, family functions, etc. In addition, I've been handling all her finances, bills, mail, medications, etc. too. And I'm the one who takes care of emergencies -- large & small. (I'm an only child, so it's just me.)

Although she moved into an assisted living facility two years ago, I still take care of everything for her. Without that investment money, I'd have to work and she'd be dependent on others. Maybe other people could do what I do, but she knows I love her and she trusts me. That is important! When she gets worried about things -- her failing eyesight, her funeral, taxes, whatever -- she calls me because she knows I will calm her down. That kind of personal relationship is worth a lot.

I don't think there's anything "weird" about taking a check from your mother, as long as it isn't a hardship for her.

Cearbhaill is right. You can't let a false sense of duty allow you to neglect practical matters. Your ability to support yourself and plan for your future is important -- to you and your mother.

All that said, Fairegold's advice was correct. You need to consult a reputable elder care attorney. You'll get some sound and up to date advice regarding how best to protect your mother's interests and yours.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 5:32PM
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FWIW, I've been full-time CG for my mom for more than a decade. She's 95, ambulatory, cognizant, healthy and handles all of her own hygiene and pills but her hearing and eyesight are very bad. Can't be left alone safely for long periods for that reason. If anything happened, she wouldn't be able to deal with it. I hire help once in a while to get an overnight away. The rate for that hired help -- trustworthy, but not especially skilled -- is $15.00 an hour, including their own sleeping time. I pay in currency for 18-hour shifts. $270.00. This is for experienced, familiar, trustworthy help. If I had to start with someone new and paid less than 12, nobody would apply.

I have my own money and accept no pay, but that's what it costs to have somebody replace me once in a while.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 12:47PM
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This is my first post on this forum - I usually check the kitchens, appliances and gardening areas.

You definitely need to see an elder care attorney. And take your Mother and any other family member with you.

Here's what we did when Dad died and Mother moved in with us 2 years ago. We all met with our attorney who specializes in estates and he recommended an elder care attorney in his practice. My Mom, my siblings and their spouses and my husband and I all went for the appointment. The attorney drew up a new will for my Mom and since Dad was now gone I became the new caregiver.

The attorney told everyone that I should be paid and that he would draw up a "Personal Care Agreement" outlining what was being done for this payment. He reminded all present that this was still far cheaper than any nursing home. He told us what would be a fair and reasonable fee and one that would not sound off an alarm with the IRS or with Medicare (when and if Medicare becomes an option).

I was amazed at the amount- $1500.00 a month. My parents had been paying more than that for their tiny apartment, utilities and food. And now I was providing Mom with a bedroom and private bath and sitting room of her own plus the run of the rest of the house and yard. I do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, calling the doctors, making appointments, picking up prescriptions and supervising her activities and driving her to church etc. She can bath, dress and feed herself and that's about it. I don't think that will last much longer.

She can afford this because of her pension and social security. Additionally this money is now coming out of her estate and won't be touched by Medicare if that happens. Although the attorney said I would be justified in keeping the money, I am putting it into a savings account in case something happens and she needs it later. That also makes it easier for her to write the check and for me to accept it.

This has made relations between myself and siblings a little tense. I resent the fact that they do very little for Mom other than visit her. My life has changed completely - we seldom go anywhere, we went away for a weekend and my children had to come and stay with Mom, it's rather depressing to have Mom with me all day long. Although the siblings know that the money is going into a special account, I think deep down they think I'm keeping it.

It's a lot more complicated that what I've just mentioned. But the important thing is that you need professional advice. And I hope you find someone that you are comfortable with.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 9:42PM
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