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Caregivers Need Help with Burnout and Finances
By Julian E. Gray, CELA


Julian E. GrayAre you now a “caregiver”?  Will you be one?  A caregiver can be defined as a person who gives help and protection to an older or disabled person or to someone who is sick, helping manage activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking and continence.

It has been estimated that there may be as many as 44 million family caregivers in the U.S. who provide as much as $470 billion in unpaid care.  These caregivers are spouses, children (predominately female), fathers, mothers, and other relatives.  Sometimes they are “simply” friends or neighbors.  Generally, it’s the adult children, between the ages of 55-64, often with full-time jobs, and many with their own dependent children (minors or not), who are providing parental care.   

Two issues we see in our practice relate to this topic: caregiver burnout and finances.  Stress can cause the caregiver themselves to become someone in need of care.

An adult caregiver can be compensated for their services.  In doing so, it is critical to have a written agreement between the caregiver and the person to whom they are providing care.  The agreement should outline the scope of services to be provided and the basis for the compensation so that the payments are not construed as penalized gifts for possible Medicaid eligibility for skilled nursing home or community-based services, which at some point, they may need.

A second major financial consideration centers on the home.  It’s not uncommon for a caregiver child to move in to take care of a parent, thus possibly curtailing their own career and earning ability.  Parents generally want to preserve their home for their children. There is an exception in federal law to the “transfer penalty” imposed on the transfer within the Medicaid five-year “look-back” period to a “care-giver child.” 

An elder law attorney can help elderly people get the care and benefits they need to live comfortable and dignified lives. We understand the struggles of adult caregivers, and we may be able to help you turn your unpaid work into a paid position without violating Medicaid rules.

Julian E. Gray is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and the founder of Julian Gray Associates, located in Pittsburgh, PA,  serving clients in the areas of elder law and disability planning for over 20 years.

For more information visit Julian Gray Associates at GrayElderLaw.com or call 412-458-6000.

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