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Live in another state and making the trip once a month to take care of a mother-in-law who doesn't want to go to a nursing home.


We are considering making the trip to stay with her every other month. We have another Mother in the state we live in that's in a nursing home. We live from paycheck to paycheck and this would turn our lives upside down. Would it be legally wrong to ask to be paid the money she could be paying for a home nurse?


It's what she wants & it's turning our lives upside down.

You don’t say what MIL’s issues are, but if she is at the point she cannot live on her own, decisions will need to be made and these will be decisions that will be difficult for everyone involved. As a couple who also lives paycheck to paycheck, I would not want to spend one of those paychecks every other month on fuel, meals and lodging.

Family caregivers who get paid are very rare. Each state sets their own rules for this, but the most likely way to get paid would be from her own funds. You’d need an attorney to setup a Caregiver Agreement for tax and estate purposes. Depending on the Agreement and her financial position, you probably would get less than what you’re getting now.

Do not enter into a situation or agreement you (both) are not 100% in favor of. MIL may not want to go to a facility, but she may have to. It sounds like these trips will cause you much stress. Be careful.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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I see more than one issue here.

Being reimbursed for your travel costs is one of them.

The second one is that your lives are being turned upside down. This is more concerning to me.

The third one is that if your mil is at the point of needing nursing home care, she should not be living on her own at all. How are you taking care of her on your visits?

You have not filled out your profile, so we do not know what issues your mil needs help with.

You are not obligated to do anything for you mil. If she does not want to move into some sort of care facility, then it is up to her to cover the costs of in home care.

I would be careful in setting up a caregiving contract that may be difficult for you to renegotiate in the future. If the current situation is causing you stress, being paid or at a minimum having your costs covered is not really going to reduce the stress it is putting on your family.
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Reply to Tothill
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No but I hope you don't do it. It really doesn't matter what she wants. What matters is what she needs. Your hands are already full. Who is supposed to care for her the alternating months? You shouldn't be sacrificing yourselves in such a manner. I hope you find another solution.
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Reply to Riverdale
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How far is it from your home to your MIL's home? How long do you stay with your MIL when you go? What do you do for her while you're there? Do you go alone or do you and your spouse go together? Are you the only family members who do this, or do you rotate MIL duty with others during the month? How long have you been doing this? And how old is your MIL (i.e., how long are you likely to have to continue doing this)?

I would think that at a minimum, your MIL should pay for gas, tolls, your meals on the road, and any other direct travel expenses. As for your time --- I guess I have mixed feelings. My first impulse is to say, yes, you should charge at the same rate as a hired professional caregiver --- but I would like to hear what other, wiser caregivers on this forum have to say about that. If I were in your place, I probably wouldn't charge for my time unless I was taking time off from work and losing wages because of the trip. But that's just me.

I hope you get some helpful answers.
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Reply to realtime
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Whatever you decide to do please make sure you keep track of every thing you are being paid for. If she ever needs to file for Medicaid benefits, every dollar that left her account(s) needs to be accounted for and thoroughly justified.
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Reply to Agingparents3
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Just because your MIL doesn't want to go into a nursing home, doesn't mean she shouldn't. All it will take is one fall and she may be there any way. I'm not a caregiver professional, but I do handle finances for seniors. If you WANT to help your MIL and can make the time out of your schedule, then I believe you should ask to be reimbursed for your expenses plus an hourly rate while you are with her. This doesn't have to be a formal contract, and you can try it out a time or two to see if if works. But this will NOT substitute for having a caregiver or another person watching and helping her on a daily basis. Does she have a Long Term Care policy? If so, she could hire someone to help her a few hours every day that would be reimbursed after an average 90-day waiting period.
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Reply to DMMFALLSCHURCH
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My god, of course, given your circumstances, you MUST be reimbursed not only for all of the expenses involved in the trip, i.e. gas, motel, food, other expenses. And given the distance and I assume you are working besides, you are giving your free time. YOU MUST BE REIMBURSED. I can certainly understand not wanting to go into a nursing home but that person must be made aware of the tremendous burden and hardship being imposed on you. YOU MUST THINK OF YOURSELF FIRST because if you don't, you will eventually be destroyed. Another thought is call, write notes and keep in touch. Given she has the funds, how about a caretaker to help the mother in the other state and then visit once every six months? You must take care of yourself FIRST. It is YOUR time to have a life. She had her time.
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Reply to Riley2166
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If you now go once a month, you are considering going every other month? Who is taking care of her the rest of the time? How long do you stay when you make these trips?
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Reply to CTTN55
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It is not wrong to ask your MIL to cover your travel expenses, assuming she can afford it and she agrees that the visits are for her benefit. Say you were acting for her with POA, then too it would be fine to claim back any money you spent exclusively for her benefit, including travel costs.

But. I'm assuming you meant you're thinking of upping the frequency from once a month to once every other week? But even so.

If your MIL *really* needs the level of care that would make her eligible for admission to a nursing home, then visits every other weekend will not cut it. It's not enough. And even if you can manage like that for the time being, before long it will become obviously inadequate.

So travel expenses aside, and other caregiving commitments aside, and the fact that you're both working flat out aside, your MIL needs to rethink her care plan. I just don't see how you and your husband* can be it.

Would she, just thinking aloud, consider moving to a facility near you? Then you could visit her far more frequently and she would still have comprehensive support.

* PS oops my bad. You and your husband or wife, I should've said - apologies for the automatic assumption.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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What?  So you go in once a month as compared to a home nurse coming in how frequently?  First of all if you're okay doing it, and living paycheck to paycheck, you have every right to say  hey, okay, we'll do it, but we need to have our expenses covered and gas or airfare is______.  Turning your lives upside down is not anything that can ever be compensated for imo.  I would also be making some phone calls or using your computer to find out what resources are available in her area to fill in the gaps and be there when you can't be.  What exactly are you doing for her?  ANd how far away is she?  Can she move to the town you're in?
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Reply to robinr
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