Is mom's caregiver taking advantage?

1 answer | Last updated: Apr 05, 2014
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has Alzheimer's and her caregiver gets her to take her out to lunch to expensive restaurants. My mom can't really afford this. I wouldn't mind if it was an occasional treat, but It seems like if gifts are not okay, why would restaurant meals be acceptable? My mom is too senile to understand that she can't afford this as often as the caregiver seems to get her to do it.

Shouldn't a caregiver either be responsible for her own food or at least eat at my mom's home with the food provided there? She is there from 7:30 to 3:30, five days a week.

Expert Answers

Merrily Orsini, MSSW, was a pioneer in the business of providing geriatric care managed in-home care. She currently serves on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and is Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a nationally known writer and speaker on aging, elder issues, and in-home care.

There are several red flags in your question. First, is that this caregiver may be privately hired, since if the caregiver is from an agency, then it is the agency's responsibility to deal with the caregiver, and not yours. Since it sounds as if this may be a privately hired caregiver, and if that is the case, then you or someone needs to be monitoring the care regularly and at sporadic times each week and each day. There needs to be a plan of care established, and the caregiver needs to sign off on that. Included in that plan of care would be activities, with a budget. And there should be a daily record of activities, including meals eaten, cost and what was consumed. You generally cannot ask a caregiver to bring their own food, or at least that is normally not done, as meal time is usually a good social time and a time for companionship. If you have hired someone privately, and you need assistance with planning the care and monitoring the caregiver, then you can hire a geriatric care manager to do that for you. What concerns me is that your mother may be taken advantage of in many more ways than just expensive restaurant meals if someone does not create a care plan with a budget, and then monitor and supervise the care. Especially since you mention "senility" telling me that your mother has some mental impairment. I question who is employing this person and if employment laws are being followed, and if proper checks were done prior to hiring. Again, many red flags in this question which tells me your mother needs some professional intervention about the care being provided, and it needs to be done soon.