Is it OK for me to have my mom pay me the salary I gave up in order to stay home and care for her?

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My mom is 81 and has ovarian cancer and mild dementia. I am a retired school teacher who also took long-term teaching positions in order to supplement my retirement pension. My supplemental net income was $3000.00 a month. When it became apparent to my 2 siblings and me that mom could no longer live alone, we decided to look for an assisted living facility for her. The price ranges we looked at were between $4,500.00 and $5,000.00 a month and we eventually decided on one that was $5,000.00/month. When it got close to the time for her to move, she made it clear that she did not want to go to an assisted living facility. I decided to give up my job and supplemental income so that she could move in with my husband and me. My mom pays me $3,000.00 a month to make up for the salary that I gave up when I quit my job in order to stay home and care for her. She pays for no utilities or groceries, etc., and yes, she has the money to pay me.


I sometimes feel guilty for taking this money, but at other times feel that it is only fair because that is the amount I gave up plus it is still well below the amount she would have paid the assisted living facility. Is this right and fair? Oh, and my siblings do nothing as far as taking her to chemo (once a week, 60 miles away), various doctors appointments, etc. They have also never offered to give us a "break" by taking mom to their homes for a weekend or even a day. I would also like to add that my husband and I also gave up our privacy and free time. I guess I would just like others' opinions on this because I do feel guilty about it at times, and it causes me much stress.

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Speaking from the perspective of having NOT being paid to care for my parents so they could remain in their home with me as their caretaker, I say if your parent has offered to pay you, take it. Foolishly, I felt guilty about taking payment my folks offered and didn’t get paid thinking I was helping them save money for when they needed to be in a facility. I “saved” them $180k had they needed to pay for 24/7 care at minimum wage. Quitting my job to care for them “cost” me my salary totaling $80k, benefits and retirement contributions. I plowed through my savings, and now can’t work due to my own health that suffered from the stress and physical demands caretaking took. Now I’m trying to figure out how to live on my small pension I was forced to draw earlier then planned which presents a whole slew of new financial issues for me. Please DON’T feel guilty about being paid to do one of the most difficult jobs out there. No matter how much is done out of love or duty or whatever, you must take care of yourself so you don’t end up in a stressful financial mess yourself.
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Anniepeepie Sep 4, 2018
thank you! well said. thank you for being honest! It is one of the very most difficult jobs
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You really need a written contract that covers things like respite care. Please budget for respite care for yourself and your husband.
There is nothing wrong with being paid to care for your mother. I think family care contracts might reduce resentment among the siblings.
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Wow, what a range of answers and I didn't even read them all.

I am so sorry that some answers imply that you don't love your mom because you have thought this situation through logically and decided to charge her for the care she is receiving from you and your husband. Love is what you do! She wanted to not go to a facility and you opened your home to her, gave up your life so she could have her wants and needs met. So to all that think this is inappropriate or unloving- jog on.

You have no reason to feel guilty. You are giving her a gift that she would not otherwise receive and would be in an AL and most likely very unhappy.

Do get an attorney to draw up a caregiver agreement, DO NOT show this as a gift, Medicaid would disallow it and you would be on the hook to pay every penny towards her care before she would qualify for assistance.

The absent siblings will have a fit when it comes time to get their inheritance and will dismiss your sacrifice and hard work to keep your mom home and care for her. Get paid for your work. You can not be expected to give up everything and your own livelihood, it is beyond ridiculous that anyone would guilt you for taking care of you and your families financial stability in a situation that calls for and receives such unselfish complete sacrifice of ones own world.

I personally think you deserve to not only get paid but that your mom pays for respite care so you can take care of you. At least 4 weeks annually, I recommend a week every quarter, caregiving 24/7 is exhausting and you must keep yourself healthy to be the best caregiver.

Get an attorney now, get a contract with pay, duties and respite. Rest easy knowing that it is fair and appropriate for you to do such. You should also consider paying yourself more, 24/7 care and all that includes, meals, med management, housekeeping etc with transportation in your vehicle is more valuable than 3,000.00 a month. Don't believe the lie that what you are giving is not invaluable.

Hugs 2 u for loving your mom enough to open your home to her and sacrificing your own life to give her what she wants and meeting all of her needs without assistance from siblings.

You deserve to be paid and you deserve a medal for your sacrifice.
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Anniepeepie Sep 4, 2018
Fantastic answer!
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Ye's, it is ok. I hope you have a written contract with her just in case she needs Medicaid for a nursing home. Does your mother pay for your health insurance?
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Health insurance probably isn't a concern, as she has it from teaching (unless it was a private school).

I see NOTHING wrong with what you are doing. But if Medicaid will ever be a concern, then a caregiver contract with proper deductions taken out is a necessity.
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Toadhall Sep 2, 2018
Oh yes. It is never wrong to document everything. That way when Medicaid comes along, you have a paper trail. Get it in writing and document everything.
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It seems absolutely fair and just to me. Tell the guilt monster in your head to take a hike! Here are a few other thoughts. What goes on between you and your mom is between the two of you. If your mom made this agreement, then that's fine. I would suggest that you make the agreement formal by putting it in writing. Ideally your mom should write it in her handwriting and explain her reasons for wanting to stay with you, what you do for her and how much she is paying you. Perhaps get it notarized. I say this because if the siblings find out about the payment, you may have a problem with them. You want it in writing now before your mom is no longer competent to make legal agreements. Do you have power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney? If not, get thee to a lawyer NOW. It would be best if the lawyer drew up the care/roommate agreement. You say she has the money, so there should be no problem paying a lawyer. A lawyer is always money well spent.
I have found that family members who are doing nothing are the first ones to complain about what the actual caregivers are doing. Protect yourself.
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jacobsonbob Sep 4, 2018
A COMPETENT and HONEST lawyer is always money well spent.
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I'm with everyone else. It's fantastic that there's enough money for you to be paid for what we know is a difficult, exhausting, and emotionally painful job. I only wish we could all be paid for the work we do. AARP estimates that caregivers like us save the country about $500 billion a year, and as the number of Baby Boomers needing care is still growing, that number will only go up. Not only is the elderly population among the poorest in the US, their caregivers, when they're lucky enough to have them, are also very poor. I'm sure you deserve every penny you get. We all do.
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Yes it is ok. But you need to see an elder law attorney to have a caregiver agreement prepared.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/personal-care-agreements-compensate-family-caregivers-181562.htm
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Reply to gladimhere
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Yes, it is okay that you be paid. You may want to look at creating the contract so that it shows cost for room and board of a certain amount of dollars ($1,250/month = $15,000/yr) and that the contract include a certain dollar amount as an annual gift to you. An annual gift can be made in an amount up to $15,000 per year and is not considered by the IRS as income for the recipient. However, your mother will need to show this on her tax return even though she is not taxed for it. An elder care or estate planning lawyer can help you devise the appropriate care contract. I don't know that one has to have a reason in writing for giving an annual gift to someone, but if so, some lovely sentiment will do.
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Judysai422 Sep 4, 2018
Not sure you want mom to gift money in case you end up having to file for Medicaid...it might effect the five year look back. Check with an attorney.
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ABSOLUTELY DO NOT FEEL GUILTY!!!! Care giving is very stressful and you deserve every penny and probably even more. I take care of my elderly aunt.... with no help from her 52 other nieces and nephews!!!!! You are earning your angel wings right now!!! I will pray you through your guilt!
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