Can I Get Paid to Care for a Family Member: Elderly Mother or Father?

A reader recently asked: “Can I get paid to take care of my mother who is elderly and needing full-time care? Up until recently, I had been working two full-time jobs but had to quit both jobs in order to care for my aging mother, who is disabled and unable to take care of herself since her release from the hospital. I am an only child, and not trying to make money off of my mother’s situation, but simply want to provide the care she needs (like her Miracle Ear hearing aid) while also taking care of my own responsibility to pay the bills and buy food. Do you or your readers know if I can get paid to provide care for my mother?”

Maybe. Some states in the U.S. provide programs that pay family members to take care of an elderly parent, but they are typically quite limited and not likely to offer very much money on a regular basis, at least not enough money as a realistic alternative to your full-time job earnings. In the U.K., there is a program called “Carer’s Allowance”, which is a benefit to help people take care of someone who is disabled. For more information on the carer’s allowance in the U.K., please see Directgov for more information on who can or cannot get carer’s allowance, as well as how much money is provided to the caregiver.

If you are one of 70 million people providing unpaid care giving for a family member, you know that the time and energy spent taking care of aging parents or other family members can become quite burdensome with few options available, leading some people to quit their jobs in order to provide needed care for an aging mother or father. Experts in in-home care understand that family members often make the best caregivers, assisting in very personal care such as bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, food preparation and other daily living activities, that elderly family members may not want or feel comfortable receiving from strangers, even if the care would be provided through a licensed home health care agency.

In some cases, if the parent, spouse, friend or other person being cared for is eligible for or on Medicaid, the Cash and Counseling program (available in some states) can pay you a sum of money if you have been designated as the personal home care aid to help pay for food, medical needs, transportation, bills, etc. How much money is paid depends on a Medicaid assessment of need as well as the current pay rate for in-home care aids in your state. Some states offer similar programs for low-income seniors, even if the senior doesn’t qualify for Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California). If the person being cared for has long-term care insurance that includes in-home care coverage, the benefits can be used to pay you in some cases.

If the elderly mother or father has their own financial resources, it may be a good idea to draw up a short contract wherein you agree to work as a home health aide with an agreed upon salary, setting specific terms of your work duties and responsibilities, as well as when and how you will be paid. The Elder Care Agreement (Form 85) provides clear, easy-to-follow instructions in how to write a caregiver contract in the book 101 Law Forms for Personal Use, which is available in both hard copy and electronic versions.

Once you have a written, signed and dated version of the contracted agreement, that both you and your parent are in agreement about, make several copies and give one copy to your parent and keep another copy for yourself. The other copies can be saved in a file, along with other important papers such as wills, insurance, financial documents, etc. Having a written contract can help reduce or eliminate stress and problems between caregiver and parent, as well as problems with siblings in situations where one family member is doing most (if not all) of the work. If your parent ever needs to go into a nursing home and isn’t already on Medicaid, the agreement will show that these payments to you were legitimate, and not a feeble attempt to “hide” money in order to qualify for Medicaid.

As a direct result of our country’s dependence on family members to provide care for loved ones at home, the U.S. federal government enacted the National Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) in 2000, developed by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The program calls for all states, in partnership with local area agencies on aging and community-service providers to offer five direct services that best meet the range of caregivers’ needs, including:

  • Information to caregivers about available services;
  • Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to supportive services;
  • Individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training to assist caregivers in making decisions and solving problems relating to their roles;
  • Respite care to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their care giving responsibilities; and
  • Supplemental services, on a limited basis, to complement the care provided by caregivers.

All states in the U.S. now provide some type of help for families under FCSP which focuses needed effort on family care giving relief, including counseling programs and support groups, training and respite care. To learn more about the specific help offered for family caregivers in your state including official contact information, email and website (if available), go to Family Caregiver Support State Contacts for more information on family caregiver services, or you can search for Home Health Care Agencies in your state, as there is currently over 8,846 Home Care Agencies on file at HomeCareFiles.org.

Check with your local Social Security Office, as they may be able to offer some help by directing you to the right agency for you, as well as information about Hospice Care, etc. To find the nearest Medicaid office or other in-home care program services available, visit the Eldercare Locator and inquire about direct payment programs for in-home care for family members.


If your state requires caregivers to be state-certified in-home care aides, you can learn the specific requirements for such certification by visiting the National Family Caregivers Association or the Family Caregiver Alliance for more information. Some adult schools or community colleges offer low-cost certification classes, so be sure to check out those options as well.

Depending on the situation, you may be able to claim your mother or father as a dependent on your taxes, claiming a portion of your parent’s medical and living expenses as a deduction, as well as costs of nursing home care. Some employers offer elder care assistance with their benefit plans, so if you must go back to work, talk to your employer to see if this is something they offer. If you go to benefitscheckup.org, you can check into any possible local or state grants or programs that may reimburse you for some care giving expenses.

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Taking Care of Aging Parents as a Family

Taking Care of Aging Parents as a Family

Caring for aging parents can be challenging and difficult at times, but it is also an honor and privilege to do so, as well as a God-given responsibility for everyone in the family. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”. (1 Timothy 5:8 New American Standard Bible)

Taking care of the needs of elderly parents can also put a strain on marriages unless clear boundaries are set and adhered to, along with getting the supportive help and assistance of all siblings, children and grandchildren. Not only is it important and necessary to care for aging parents, but it is just as important to care for the needs of your own immediate family, such as the husband/wife relationship and that of any children.

The aging parent/child relationship cannot and must not supersede the relationship between husband and wife as first priority, as this goes against the marriage vows spoken before God and witnesses to “leave and cleave unto each other”, thereby creating needless stress and strain on the marital relationship. It is extremely important to understand the difference between caring for needs versus wants, as taking care of elderly parents can often lead adult children to become enablers of their own parents without realizing it.

Some elderly parents can be very difficult to deal with, perhaps even controlling and manipulative, in a selfish attempt to dictate the lives and activities of family members. Some may even claim they are unable to care for basic needs such as fixing themselves a sandwich, when in reality they are fully capable physically and mentally, but choose to expect family members to cater to their every want and whim.

What is an Elderly Parent?

How do you know when your aging parent is in need of help? What signs are there to indicate it may be time to step in and help your parents? Specifying a particular age to signify an “aging” or “elderly parent” would be meaningless, because each person is different in their abilities and health as they enter their advancing years. One elderly parent may be in their early 60’s when needing help, while another parent may not need help until well into their 70’s or 80’s.

Becoming keenly aware of a parents ability to fulfill the basics of living such as bathing and grooming, preparing meals, caring for household chores, doing laundry, remembering and paying bills as needed, shopping, driving skills etc, are all telltale signs of whether a parent may be in need of some assistance.

Caring for an elderly parent encompasses responsibilities from the very basic needs of living, to dealing with physical and mental health problems (such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia), insurance and long-term care, where a parent will live when no longer able to live alone, discussing the parents wishes and desires if incapacitated or unable to make coherent decisions, and much more.

Talking With an Aging Parent

While it is certainly advantageous and recommended for a parent to make plans for their own care before an emergency or serious health problems occur, adult children must often take on the weighty responsibility of caregiver before becoming fully informed of everything involved with caring for an aging parent.

It is then necessary for the family, especially grown adult children to have a family meeting with the parents to ask questions well before an emergency situation arises, gather and save necessary documents (financial, insurance, wills, etc) regarding what needs there are or will be at some point in the future.

  • Who will be the primary caregiver?
  • What role will others in the family play in caring for the parent or Grandparent?
  • What can teenagers and younger family members do to help?
  • Are there any signs that some help is needed now? What are they?
  • What responsibilities can be shared, and by whom?
  • Is there a need to supervise medications, shopping, doctor visits, etc?
  • Is there a list of assets and their value? If so, where is it?
  • Is there a will, a living will, medical directive, power of attorney? If so, where?
  • Location of birth certificates, social security card, marriage and/or divorce certificates, education and military records.
  • Is there a private pension, what is the amount, is it directly deposited? Where?
  • Are there Social Security payments? How much? How is it deposited?
  • Is there a list of all bank accounts, CD’s, safety deposit boxes, IRA’s, stocks, etc? Where?
  • What debts are there? Mortgages, credit cards, car payment?
  • Is there adequate medical insurance? Long-term care insurance? Medicare? Medicaid? Prescription plan?
  • Has anyone consulted with an elder-care attorney?
  • Can the elderly parent live alone? Where will the parent live if unable to live alone?
  • What about an Independent Living or Assisted Living facility, or a Nursing Home?
  • What medications are being taken, and in what dosage? By prescription or over the counter?
  • Are there any prepaid funeral expenses? Prepaid burial plot? Are there any specific funeral arrangements desired?
  • What are the parent’s wishes regarding when to issue or agree to a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, also known as a D.N.R.?
  • Is an Obituary notice in the newspaper desired? How much does it cost? (Some newspapers offer this as a complimentary service, while others charge hundreds of dollars for a two-inch block of text).
  • Is there a preferred funeral home? Should there be a viewing? Who will deliver the eulogy?
  • Is cremation desired? Are there any specific wishes regarding the funeral service?

These are just some of the many questions that must be asked and respectfully discussed with the parent, allowing the aging parent to retain as much as control as possible over their own care and needs. Educate yourself on legal, financial and medical matters that relate to your parent and the aging process prior to having the family meeting, being sure to include information and facts learned to the discussion.

While you may feel somewhat nervous about discussing death with a loved one, you may be surprised to find that most elderly people are not afraid to talk about it and will appreciate your willingness to carry out their wishes.

Helping Aging Parents as a Family Unit

The entire family is responsible for caring for the numerous and sometimes difficult demands of an aging parent, including young members of the family. Too often this responsibility is placed solely on the shoulders of one adult child, while others in the family shirk their duty to be supportive and helpful in the process.

Baby Boomers are now caring for their parents, in what has been called the Sandwich Generation, while at the same time trying to care for their own children, household chores, jobs and marriages. Regardless of how far away from their parents that adult children and grandchildren live, each member of the family needs to do everything within their power to help care for the needs of Grandma or Grandpa.

Making regular phone calls, sending cards and letters, scrapbook collections and photo’s of fun and happy times, occasional gifts “just because” or to say “I love you” are all things even younger children and teenagers can do to help support the family’s caring for the elderly grandparent. Distance is no excuse to leave all the responsibility to the sibling living closest to the parent.


Think of all the various household chores that are necessary in your own home, and that many families share in, to keep a home clean and in good working order. All of these and more are required to care for elderly parents and grandparents too. Teenagers and younger children can help Grandma and Grandpa with dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms, calling on the phone, drawing pictures and cards, playing board games, etc according to their individual abilities. Helping in these ways allows grown adults the time to care for more difficult and time-consuming responsibilities like heavy yard work, car repairs and maintenance, grocery shopping, making sure bills have been paid, etc.

By working together as a family, being supportive and helpful in caring for the many needs of the elderly parent, families will have the joy and pleasure of knowing that their efforts were greatly appreciated by the aging parent or grandparent, as well as knowing that they fulfilled the requirement to “honor your father and mother” while they were alive.

Related Post:

Can I Get Paid to Care For a Family Member?
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