Hi, I have an ex-sister in-law that is struggling financially. She is living in assisted housing, receives disability and is broke. She does not have a job. She has offered to move in with my mother as a live-in care giver. She has done this work in the past for many years and has good references. We are planning to have a sit down discussion about the possibility, nothing final yet.

My mother is still living at home but has started to need help with meds and daily care. She recently hurt her shoulder and we have around the clock care now until she recovers. The current care givers are basically their to supervise, make sure she takes her meds, help her up if needed and take her to the restroom.

My question is, if we were to take my ex sister-in-law up on her offer can we do this in exchange for room and board? We could include all meals. We would need her approx 4 hours a day to supervise my Mom. This is as much a benefit for her as it is for my mom (and me). I want to be fair though and wanted to get your thoughts. Thanks.

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My only suggestion is that if your ex sister in law gives up her current assisted housing, she would lose the place permanently and if she wanted to return later she would probably go on a waiting long list. Maybe a better idea would be to have her work for you daily a few hours not move in.
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Reply to Ricky6

Look at your question..."has done this work for years and has good references". Really? That was caregiving work? And no job and on disability. And the idea is to have this person take on duties for a client that requires 24 hour care. Makes no sense. Don't do it.
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Reply to amoeba

What type of disability is she getting?
Can she manage to care for your mom SAFELY?
Research the type of pay that a live in caregiver gets. And what labor laws you have to follow.
Get a contract. I suggest that you have it so that it can be renegotiated after 6 months. This way if she can not handle it then you can look for someone else and her contract will end. On the other hand as your mom declines she may want more money.
One person can not work 24/7/365 so you may need other caregivers that will fill in.
You can not have her work for "room and board" she also has to be paid.
You need to make this "legal" and take taxes out. This may become very important if mom needs to apply for Medicaid.
You also need to be very specific with what she is to do. You say "only" 4 hours a day what do you expect her to do in those 4 hours?
Laundry, housecleaning, meal prep, dishes. What about when it comes to the point where your mom needs help bathing, dressing? Is that still in the 4 hours? Again you need to be specific about what is to be done when you have the "contract" written. (this does not need to be done by a lawyer but be as specific as you can)
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Reply to Grandma1954

If she is disabled, how can she care for your mom?  Even if your mom only needs moderate help now, it will only get worse.   That is what happens with elderly parents.  And will your ex-SIL lose her disability and her assisted living (where I live there is a wait list for assisted living)?
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Reply to FloridaDD

Your SIL would become wholly dependent on your mother for a roof over her head and the food on her plate, and you think it's as much benefit to her as it is to your mother? It's a terrible idea.

If your SIL is equal to the task of providing your mother with adequate support, she's equal to getting a job. I do NOT mean to suggest she isn't entitled to every cent of the disability benefits she's receiving, but why is she receiving them? What's needed is real help for her to become financially self-sufficient. Don't collaborate with her in getting herself trapped in an unpaid, informal caregiving role.

Moreover, you do not want your mother to be dependent for her care on one single person; and that's even before we ask about how they get on with one another as individuals.

I really wouldn't touch the proposal with a stick. They both need support, but not from one another.
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Reply to Countrymouse

See an elder law attorney to set up a caregiver agreement. Get references from previous employers. SIL has housing that if she were to move out, then she would have to get on a waiting list, some places years long, to get back in.

So much to consider. Room and board cannot be considered even partial payment for a live in. You need a contract, without one would jeopardize mom's future Medicaid eligibility. Without payment, subject to unfair labor practices, family or not.
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Reply to gladimhere

I think it is a terrible idea. This ex sister in law has no training or experience. There are so many small mistakes that can happen with inexperienced care which can result in injury or illness that is difficult for aged to recover from. Do not even consider it further. Please say no.
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Reply to amoeba

Is this your brothers ex? What does he think about it?
Seens awkward in some ways, especially if there is a new sister in law. Perhaps it’s your ex husband’s sister?
Either way, there is also that to consider. What happens when mom needs more help?
Many variables to the situation. If it works, it would be great to have someone you already know and trust.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

You'll need to pay her a salary. Work in exchange for room and board is slavery which is generally frowned upon. I think there was even a war over it.
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Reply to ZippyZee
gladimhere Jul 22, 2020
It is actually illegal. A live in is considered an employee.
The people who answered previously seem well versed in elder care and elder law... but my two cents is... if your “sis” wants to move in with your mom... who is basically family to her... and she is trustworthy... let her. Sounds like a living arrangement between family and not an employment contract. She prob just wants to stack her disability funds for a while, while living for free. I’d go for it.
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Reply to Dbullock

Get yourself an Elder Law Attorney to lead you through the steps you have to take.
This could be very complicated & much to consider for Mom & for sister in law.
God bless and help you.
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Reply to Jacilyn

Live ins get a salary too. Room and board just makes it easier for the person being cared for. As suggested, check with the labor board. You will need to take taxes and SS out of her salary. She pays half of SS and employer pays the other half. As said, SIL will need time off and specified hours.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Check labour laws in your jurisdiction.

In general, you have to pay a wage as well as provide room and board. Otherwise you are describing modern slavery.

If your family proceeds with this plan you will need to have a care giving contract that clearly spells out:

Tasks, need to be clearly stated
What happens if Mum's care needs increase, either due to another injury or to general decline?
Hours per day
Days per week
Time Off/respite
How long she can stay in the house if Mum dies or moves into a facility
Employee benefits

Who is going to prepare the meals? Who is going to go grocery shopping? Just this could easily be 4 hours a day. Add in personal care and medication management and you are almost at a full time job.

Whose car will she use to take Mum to appointments? If her own, how will she be reimbursed for mileage? The same applies to any other use of her personal vehicle.

And the elephant in the room, if you SIL is disabled, will her disability impact the ability to provide care?

Lastly, if it does not work out, can you SIL get back into affordable housing? Here is there a wait list for it.
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Reply to Tothill

I hope you'll get more responses from people who have tried this. I have not. It sounds like it would be a good idea, IF everything lines up well. The problem is that it rarely happens.

I will say that there are some red flags though. I'd really think it over carefully, because, it could end up being more of a problem than a help. You say that she is on disability and broke. I'd be concerned that she is able to do what you ask. Can she get bonded? She must need help her herself if she qualifies for AL.

Also, if she were to get sick and take to her bed, who will take care of her?

What if your mother and her just don't get along, once they spend a lot of time together. At this point, she would have given up her AL and possibly other benefits.

With Covid, some states have temporary laws that may prevent you from evicting someone. So, she could be able to live in the house rent free, even though, she doesn't do any work. Also, what if she gets hurt? What if she sues your mother? I'd likely consult with an attorney and maybe an accountant about it. I'd be inclined to want a written contract, drafted by an attorney who can anticipate all the issues that could arise.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1

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