I'm currently working on an article for a local financial magazine. Every year they have a special issue on senior matters and this year they want to focus on family care giving. The issue for this article is: Should the primary family care giver be financially compensated? What issues does this raise in a family?What conflicts might there be when the care giver wants, or needs to be financially supported?
I interviewed a geriatric care manager that also was the primary caregiver for her father. It was interesting what insights Shelley learned from the other side of her business. Her mother also suffers from dementia, which complicated getting care for her parents. She answered the question about compensating a care giver.
"If the family can afford it, the care giver should be compensated," she said. "It can help alleviate the resentment that sometimes can damage relationships. Shelly went on to say that often the care giver experiences problems with finances. "Over just a year of caring for my father, my income was cut in half. My parents thought that any time they needed anything, I should drop what I was doing and get over there."
Who usually has the responsibility for care giving? I'm sure you guessed it. It's usually a daughter. Shelley said that many cultures take it for granted that the oldest daughter will do the care giving. "I'm Hispanic and it's just a given that I'd be the care giver," she said. "My brothers tried to help some and my younger sister, but I was always expected to do the most."
Many studies have found that care giving can be very expensive and not be good for a career. If you have a job, you might end up having to quit or take time off, which can cost you a lot. One study estimates that $3 trillion in wages, benefits, and pensions funds is lost for those who care for a family member. People who have quit their job to give care often return to the workforce and find they aren't as marketable as when they left.
So, are you the primary care giver? Did you ask for help with finances? Was your siblings supportive, or did they resent you "asking for help?
We'd love to hear from you! What you do is a great service to your elder and your entire family.
If you or a family member is going through a crisis, I want you to know that you are not alone. The support and education you need is available at your fingertips from expert care professionals at Lutheran Homes of Michigan. You may talk to a real person who does have the answers, without any obligation by calling 989.652.3470 or by emailing
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