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Does Your Family Need A Caregiver Agreement?

In the coming years, the roughly 76.4 million individuals, who are today between the ages of 52 and 70 and are collectively known as baby boomers, will continue to age. By 2029, an estimated one-fourth of the population in the United States will be age 65 and older. If you are the son or daughter of one of the millions of baby boomers, it's important to discuss and make decisions today about potential future changes and issues that can significantly impact your loved one's health, finances and quality of life.

One of the most important, but often overlooked, issues that families with aging loved ones must address relates to who will take over or pay for caregiving services. Even if an aging parent or loved one is able to continue to live on his or her own, he or she may still need help with things like cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene, grocery shopping and transportation to doctor and other appointments. It's these types of everyday tasks that many families fail to plan for and that can cause families to experience added stress and financial hardships and cause rifts between siblings or extended family members.

A Caregiving Plan

When considering and planning for the future care needs of an aging parent or loved one, issues that should be discussed, considered and decided upon include:

  • A parent's wishes - If the time comes when a parent's physical or cognitive impairments make living independently difficult or dangerous, what are his or her preferences when it comes to living arrangements.
  • Siblings' wishes -From raising their own young families to relocating for work or suffering financial setbacks; the lives and circumstances of siblings may vary greatly. When it comes to caring for an aging parent, for a variety of reasons, some siblings may simply be better equip and more willing than others. These types of issues should be discussed in a realistic manner to avoid future fighting and resentment.
  • Financial considerations - In addition to big-ticket expenses related to a parent's move into a nursing home facility or need for in-home nursing care, families should also consider the financial losses suffering by a sibling who cuts back to part-time or quits working altogether to help care for an aging parent.

While it can be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about, families can avoid a lot of headache, heartache and stress if they are proactive when it comes to planning for a parent's possible future care needs.

Caregiver Agreements

If you or one of your siblings ends up becoming a parent's caregiver, it's wise to seek the advice and assistance of an estate planning and elder law attorney. An attorney can answer questions, provide advice and assist families in drafting a formal caregiver agreement.

In addition to outlining the basic duties and responsibilities that a designated caregiver agrees to provide, a caregiver agreement can also be used as a way to provide compensation to a care-providing sibling or family member without jeopardizing a loved one's eligibility or access to Medicaid benefits.

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