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When It's A Child's Turn to Take Care of Mom or Dad
A Caregiver Agreement May Be in Order

By David Cutner
(Page 1 of 3)

As our parents become elderly and infirm, the parent-child relationship is often reversed.  Our parents are no longer taking care of us, and now it’s our turn to take care of them. 

However, many seniors are reluctant to admit that their bodies, or their minds, are starting to fail.  They don’t want to give up control of their lives or their checkbooks.  While children want to help, they have their own lives, jobs, and families, and they may be conflicted, or even resentful, about spending their time caring for Mom or Dad, particularly when siblings are not doing their “fair share.”

As a result, Mom or Dad’s decline in health or mental capacity can be a stressful and emotionally difficult time for everyone in the family.  Some of the challenges presented in this situation can be overcome, or at least reduced, by the creation of a “Caregiver Agreement.” 

A Caregiver Agreement, sometimes referred to as a “Personal Services Contract,” is a formal written agreement between an elderly or disabled individual, and one or more caregivers, who can be adult children, or other relatives, friends or professionals.  The agreement generally states that the caregiver will provide personal care, managerial services, companionship or other services to the elderly or disabled individual in exchange for compensation.

At first blush, the thought of a parent entering into a contract with a child to provide care may seem unusual, or even repugnant.  However, there are several reasons why such an agreement may be advisable and extremely worthwhile. 

A child who is forced to give up a job, or reduce his or her hours at work, in order to care for a parent, may as a result experience a financial hardship.  The Caregiver Agreement provides for monetary compensation to the caregiver child, which will help offset the loss or diminution of the child’s income from other work.  In the absence of the child’s assistance, the parent might have been forced to pay the same or even a greater amount to a stranger to provide the same services.

While many children would feel guilty about complaining that caring for a parent is a burden, the fact is that caring for an aging parent (which may involve dealing with incontinence, aggressive behavior, or other unpleasant circumstances) can be trying.  The Caregiver Agreement acknowledges the caregiver child’s hard work and personal sacrifice.

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