Fact: It is possible to gain compensation as a paid caregiver for a spouse or family member, such as elderly parents.
Reality: Compensation is not much if you are currently working at a job that pays livable wages, especially if your employer provides your medical and retirement benefits.
Research Carefully Before Becoming A Caregiver for A Parent
Making the decision to become the prime caregiver for aging parents is a loving, generous act, and the demands on you will be significant.
However, it’s critical to carefully research the options before making any permanent decisions. The switch from payroll employee to paid caregiver has a major potential impact on your future financial health, as well as physical and emotional wellbeing.
Ask the following questions
The paperwork and rigamarole required in getting paid for taking care of an elderly parent are extensive.
Asking and answering the following questions can help hone the decision-making process:
- Is homecare the best option for your parents?
- Does homecare make more financial sense than assisted living in the long-term?
- If you are taking care of elderly parents, is there enough money in the coffers to pay for regular respite care (it is absolutely impossible and a bad idea for everyone involved for anyone to be a caregiver 24/7 without help and a break)?
- Do I have the physical ability, capacity, and know-how required in becoming a caregiver for a parent, or will we still need to pay for home care aides to help?
- If I quit my job, do we have enough income to pay for insurance benefits, my bills, and to continue putting the same amount away each month for retirement and savings?
- Will this decision put me into debt, or contribute to existing debt in any way?
- Am I healthy, able-bodied and confident about setting and maintaining personal boundaries?
No matter how much you love your parents, there is no situation where allowing yourself to sink physically, financially or emotionally is worth the act of stepping into taking care of elderly parents.
How To Get Paid For Taking Care Of Elderly Parents
The following are a list of programs and organizations that provide some level of modest compensation to spouses, children or immediate family members who take on the role of becoming a caregiver for a parent.
In all cases, we recommend applying for prospective services ASAP as the required paperwork is involved and waiting lists can be long.
Company-paid caregiver/family leave
If the situation is temporary, bridging the gap until more permanent arrangements can be made, ask your employer if they offer any type of paid family/caregiver leave.
Many employers offer anywhere from four- to 12-weeks, and they don’t always have to be used consecutively.
Your parents & siblings
While finances may be an uncomfortable topic for families to discuss, now’s the time to explore that very topic.
Many seniors put money away for “a rainy day,” money you and your siblings may be unaware of. Now, that rainy day has come – in the form of much-needed funds to ensure your parents are safe, well-nourished and cared for so they can continue to enjoy the best quality of life possible.
These two articles can help to guide the theme and context of your family’s conversations around available finances and long-term care planning.
- Financial Planning For Your Parents. In addition to suggestions around how to frame the conversations and how to involve other, key family members – this article outlines important considerations such as Durable Power Of Attorneys, Advanced Medical Directives and so on.
- 10 Signs Your Parents Need Assistance to Safely Live at Home. Pointing out your own observations may be met with resistance. Running through these objective signs, assembled by elder care experts around the nation, may help to frame the situation realistically and with objectivity.
Also, if you are planning to quit your job or take a notable hit in terms of financial, time and energetic resources, it is only fair that your siblings contribute money or their own time and energy into the collaborative pot.
If family members are able to pay you for taking care of elderly parents, draw up a signed contract, keep professional records of your time and expenses, and always report your income. Read alz.org’s tips on How to Compensate a Family Member for Providing Care.
Medicaid waiver programs
Medicaid offers a range of waiver programs that vary from state-to-state.
In Virginia, the program is called the Commonwealth Coordinated Care Waiver (CCC Waiver). This program is designed to help offset the costs of various elder care services by paying qualifying family members to do the work, preventing individuals from having to move to facility-based care.
Click here to view a list of services the program covers. You’ll need to schedule an appointment with your local Department of Social Services or the Department of Health to begin the application process.
However, it’s important to note that Medicaid-sponsored compensation programs like these rarely pay more than the state’s minimum, hourly wage. Currently, the minimum wage in VA is $8.00/hour.
Are either of your parents veterans? If so, the Veterans’ Administration (VA) has programs under the Veterans Directed Care umbrella, which provide compensation for qualifying veterans who prefer to receive care at home.
Those who already have insurance coverage through the VA are eligible for an additional stipend – which can be used to pay you to be a caregiver for parents and allows for a monthly budget of around $2500.
If your parents aren’t currently using a VA plan, they may still qualify.
Stipends consider the type of care required and the number of care hours needed. This program pays an hourly wage that is more or less comparable with the standard hourly wage paid to home caregiving professionals, averaging about $10/hour.
One of the great things about this program is that veterans get to choose who their caregiver(s) are, including friends.
Click Here to connect with a VA Regional Office near you.
Getting Paid To Take Care Of Your Elderly Parents
The decision to take care of your parents at home is commendable and the above resources can ensure you’re compensated for your efforts.
Learn more about taking care of elderly parents in these resources: