How to Share Caregiving Cost

4 Ways to Figure Out Who Pays for What
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Figuring out household finances can become a real sore point for family caregivers. After all, having someone living in your home raises the cost of basics, like food and utilities. And if multiple family members help care for a loved one, it can be challenging to track who paid for what. Here are some ideas that can help:

1. Call a family meeting to establish big-picture principles.

When it comes to money issues, it's important to lay the cards -- including the credit cards -- on the table, with all the relevant parties involved. Work out a general approach to spending that everyone can get on board with. Once a year, hold a special meeting to address big expenses coming up, such as a new roof or a faltering washing machine.

2. Keep a receipt box.

If multiple caregivers are involved, tracking expenses is critical so that nobody later complains of spending more than his or her fair share. Have a clearinghouse system in which all receipts -- for medication and drugstore supplies, medical co-pays, hairdresser appointments, and so on -- are deposited in one place, with the payer's name indicated. Some families find it useful for one member to track individual spending on a spreadsheet.

3. Work out a single rent check.

Track bills for a month or two and compare them to life before your loved one moved in. Come up with a single figure that includes proportional amounts for electricity, heat, food, and other basics. This eliminates dickering over individual bills every month, while allowing your loved one to feel as if he or she is contributing. (It works in reverse if younger family members move in with an older generation.)

4. Set up payment systems.

Another approach is to decide together on a general system for how bills are to be paid. Some families choose to use one credit card for medication, another for supplies or food, and so on. If your loved one insists on writing checks, look into having another family member's name on the account. In the event the person becomes too ill or disabled to physically write checks, access to this account won't be lost.


over 4 years ago, said...

Lere, my heart goes out to you. I, too, am feeling the income tax panic as my husband has lost 1099s and the past few years of tax records. I'm trying to remind myself that most things I've worried about never happened, and also trying to take time to pray and quieten my mind. Hugs and I'll remember you in my next prayer session.


over 4 years ago, said...

Even with a hired caregiver, these kinds of things arise. Our "helper" will bring something for us as a gift, and I feel badly, but she's hurt that I want to pay for it. So, this is a good article for me to refer to. Thanks


over 4 years ago, said...

Tthings get so compilcated with a parent or spouse needing care.So many dynamics to this area of aging ,memory loss,illnesses ect. I looked after my father, but i was younger.now everything weighs us down with age. also we can accept the natural aging process, but with an early on- set illness we feel helpless and in denial sometimes. Yes i do think of my mother-in-law and how her family supported her for years I don't want to put that on my children and their spouses.( I don't expect it or want it)..If things get to much for me i will size down, and just care for him.


over 4 years ago, said...

oops post got away bfore finished. eldercare attorney told me it's always the sibling who lives the farthest away and does the least who complains the loudest.and that is why the dictionary calls them vultures.


over 4 years ago, said...

if child is moving in with parent, again, better to hammer out issues in writing before the move. and in a perfect world this will b no problem. perhaps better to move them in with you is possible given the house sounds uninhabitable with filth and unrepaired hurricane damage. but oldsters often are stubborn about leaving their homes. it represents their independence and control over their lives. i had to remind my mother over and over that my home was her home, too, and she would have the right to control her part of it. as for non-contributing siblings, surely there is a pew in hell reserved for them. an eldercare attorney tild me


over 4 years ago, said...

This assumes the older generation is moving in with the younger. Any suggestions for when the younger generation (a sibling) moves in with the parents (one with dementia and one with failing physical health) along with her adult children and ex-husband? The elderly parents are paying all the bills but want her there to 'care for them' even though she works full-time elsewhere. The house has unrepaired hurricane damage, termite issues and is filthy. No agreements in writing...all verbal. Any ideas?


over 4 years ago, said...

My brother lives about an hour away from Mom(in nursing home) and rarely comes to visit. (her birthday if my sister who lives 8 hours away comes in, when she goes in the hospital, several days after, and he did come one afternoon at Christmas time). He doesn't call to see how she is, so I don't call him. (she has vascular dementia so most of the time she doesn't answer her phone and he doesn't try to call her). My sister calls several times a week to check on Mom and if needed she takes time off from her job and flys over her. She usually comes twice a year for visits (Mom's birthday and then again in the Fall). We have both decided if my brother wants to know how Mom is, he knows our phone numbers and he can call us. So far no financial help from him either, but we have not had to spend much yet. I do have Mom's POA and am on all her accounts so I take care of paying her portion of nursing home. It is hard with siblings at times but you just have to do what is best for your loved one. My sister and I always decide any medical decisions now, we use to ask my brother, but now we just make them. I guess if something big comes up we will call him, but small issues we decide.


over 4 years ago, said...

My Mom is on Medicaid, Tricare in the nursing home and then we pay most of her part out of her pensions. We do pay extra for her private room. My Sister and I have put aside money gradually over time to cover the extra we have to pay. We put the same amount and we use this to buy any clothes she needs, which aren't many out of that account (just our names are on the account). We do have a brother but so far no money from him, we hope he will start helping, but if he doesn't we will continueas we are doing. We also prepaid for her funeral before she went on medicaid.


over 4 years ago, said...

Sometimes resentments can build up when you are the only person in the family paying for things. Then you feel "guilty" or like a cheapskate thinking of all the times your parent or loved one did things for you. Having a system all can agree to takes the ill feelings out of it.


over 4 years ago, said...

We sent money like clock work to my husbands mother who died with alz.a few months ago. She was windowed at an early age and was in-need.They bought her a new car,home, paid her bills ect. even when she was healthy.I loved her very much and never did i stand in the way with what her family wanted to do. Now however i don't have the same support system she had. We own a share in her home and the family members don't seem to want to sell any time soon. Wish i had someone to shoulder some worries like she did for 49 yrs. she lived after she was widowed.Most of the thoses years she had no idea what all was being done for her,or where it came from. She was blessed...


over 4 years ago, said...

This confirms that it is not wrong to expect the cared for family member to pitch in monitarily (when possible).


over 4 years ago, said...

I have also discussed this with our children. I think, they think i'm stronger then i feel. I know i can do it most days, but i have crashes when it's tax time,can't find all the paper work, when i think i'm oragnized ect. Car tags due, shop for cheaper insurances on house or car. Make sure he eats, give him his pills, dr. appointments, ect ect.


over 4 years ago, said...

Husband with declining memory. Own modest home, older car, small amount of investments, no life insurance or L.T.C.Live mostly on S.S. Every insurance policy and taxes goes up.Don't know how much longer i can deal with keeping everything going emotionally and owning this house.I know i sound like I'm whinning but it's reality for alot of us in our 70's. We lived furgal, no debt . now the most i can hope for is a spend down to medicade. Handwriting on the wall for my husband in not so far future. Not easy to face daily wondering what the right thing is to do. Summer coming more work..ect.


over 4 years ago, said...

YES--THANK YOU!!!


over 4 years ago, said...

in a perfect world with a perfect family this advice works. good luck with it in the real world of dysfunctional families. If you are going to take on your elderly parent be sure your sacrifices are covered. If rational your parent needs to put an agreement in writing and of course, it will need to be changed every 15 minutes. By all means, keep good records of expenses, receipts, and who paid for what in case a litigious sibling like mine wants to sue you after mom dies. The question I always asked myself was whether the expense would be necessary for me alone. I do not believe for one minute that parents should take advantage of a child who is generous enough to take them in as long as that parent has assets to contribute to their care. Martyrdom is overrated and will not take care of you in your old age.