Studies show that family caregivers loose 75% of their earning potential for every year that the caregiver provides care for the aging senior in their life. In fact, over 50 million family members are providing what equates to over $300 billion dollars of unpaid care to a family member. Baby boomers are in fact, struggling with the costs of providing long term care. The children of boomers will face this situation as well.
This “look back” period investigates assets for a period of 5 (to 7years). The government evaluates if in that 5 (to 7 year period) a home(s) or other financial assets were given to family members as a gift. These “gifts” could (and often are) considered assets that were available for the aging senior to pay for care in a nursing home. The Medicaid system will take all these factors into account and determine when the aging senior will be eligible to qualify for Medicaid and other public services.
For example, an aging mother, presently living in her own home requires an increase in level of care. Her assets are her home (assessed at $300,000) and a small savings. This mother takes pride in the fact that she has this home and has every intention of leaving her home to her children as their inheritance. In fact, to preserve the home and provide care for her mother, her daughter and grandchildren have moved in to help.
Presently, a family member receiving payment for services is not viewed by the system as receiving a gift. Therefore, as part of a family care giver contract, the assets appear to be less and the aging mother will not be penalized.
Many aging seniors do not want to have care provided to them by strangers. Some family members find it difficult to find outside care givers to provide care. In an effort to meet family obligations, family caregivers make major sacrifices to make sure that the needs of the aging seniors in their life are taken care of properly.
For some family members, it is important to be acknowledged and reimbursed for the care they provide. It is not always easy to provide care to an aging senior that is demanding and unappreciative. The responsibilities of being a caregiver are stressful and unpredictable.
The family care giving contract can alleviate resentment and sibling rivalry. A major issue of most care givers is lack of family support; whether from siblings or extended family. This causes resentment and frustration and eventually anger on the part of many care givers. A written contract alleviates that situation, as individuals will get reimbursed for the care they provide.
It is also important that many care givers have a formalized written contract, as many family members will question and pursue legal avenues for their part of any inheritance after the aging senior passes. It is not unusual for the uninvolved family members to want a share of an estate. Providing services with a written contract can protect the caregiver that provided the majority of care to the aging senior.