Developing a contact can help an older senior remain in their home, as well as protect the assets from nursing home costs. Many family members provide care on an informal basis and do not require or expect payment. Other family members make great sacrifices and would benefit from receiving payment, however modest it may be.
To implement a family care giver contract it is important to:
Plan for the future and get the proper legal paperwork in order. Read about that here.
Consult an eldercare law attorney
It is important to note that you cannot develop a family care giver contract for services already provided. In other words, you cannot retroactively be paid for services to protect the present assets. There are very strict rules and regulations that must be followed, and having the proper paperwork in order will alleviate and prevent unnecessary care giver stress in the future.
A formalized contract should be very specific about the responsibilities of the caregiver and the expectations of the care recipient. For this purpose, having an elder care law attorney will be beneficial. The attorney can help the family approach this in a business like manner. In doing so, all parties that are involved will have a clear understanding of the quality of care and the costs for the care.
Keeping family members informed
Having a family contract in place, will also allow those family members that do not want to or are unable to provide care, aware of how the finances are being handled. For the family member that provides a majority of the care, it can decrease the feelings of resentment, frustration and anger that often build up with uninvolved siblings and extended family members. The family care giver that takes on the majority of the responsibility can benefit from the long and tedious hours they provide care.
When it comes to money and how the assets of the aging senior are being spent, families become unraveled. Jealousy and anger are not uncommon for family caregivers to endure. Having a formalized care giver contract can allow the aging senior to utilize their assets to remain at home, receive quality care and financially reward the individual that is providing that care. This can provide the family caregiver with protection should the other family members pursue legal action after the aging senior is deceased. It is unfortunate, but it does happen more often than you think.
Identify future care needs
This is not an easy thing to accept, but as we age, our needs for care change. Many older seniors have a slow decline. It is important that when pursuing a written contract that you talk with the doctor about the aging senior and have an open and honest discussion about their future health care needs. You may want to consult with an eldercare consultant or a geriatric case manager to help you determine what care may be required in the future.
When developing the family caregiver contract, identify what you, as a care giver will be able to provide and able to handle. You must be able to say, “I cannot take care of you when you reach this point.” This will give the aging senior a clear understanding of what they can expect from you when providing care.
It will also prepare them for a time when they may have to be admitted to a nursing home. It is also important to note here, that there may come a time when you, the caregiver, will agree to oversee the care and hire outside caregivers, to provide the care you cannot, to keep the aging senior at home. You can put this into the contract and make it an option for the future.
Consider the “care giver” role as a job. When developing a formal contract, it is important to consider things that you would consider in a job outside the home. You will need to determine an hourly rate or a salary amount. Many long term care insurance providers do a yearly report on the costs of services for home care aides in each state. Investigate the costs of services you will provide by searching on the web for the long term care study report for the year you are going to be providing services. Both Met Life and Genworth companies publish yearly reports.
Care giver stress can be avoided by taking breaks and allowing time for the care giver to rejuvenate. It is important to include in the contract how time off will be handled and who will provide care during that time.
It is important to determine how you as an aging baby boomer and senior caregiver are paid and who will be writing the check. Consulting how taxes will be paid is another step in this process you should explore prior to implementing the contract.
We are living longer and healthier than ever before. Providing care for an older senior can last from a few months to a few years. Taking the steps to prepare and plan ahead are the keys to success for today's aging baby boomers.