How do I compensate a sibling who is the primary caregiver for our parent?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 03, 2014
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can you recommend any resources to guide a family in deciding how to compensate the sibling who is doing most of the caretaking? This sibling if often a woman, and as we all know, taking time from work affects women's longterm earnings capacity. Our family is in this current situation. Thanks for any advice.

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

According to the General Accountability Office, about 80% of home-care services are provided by family caregivers. The services that they provide are tremendous. Many times this essential job is performed without compensation, but in other instances the caregiver is paid for the services he or she (and you are right, it is usually she) provides.

It has been estimated that the average caregiver loses $600,000 in income over the duration of the caregiver's working career factoring in the loss of promotions and other job benefits. The average hourly rate for paid Home Health Aides throughout the country is $18 per hour. It varies however considerably in different regions of the country from a high of $27 per hour to a low of $13 per hour.

There are also considerable tax issues that are involved in acting as a paid cargiver including the payment of withholding taxes. Insurance and liability issues should also be considered.

All in all, caretaking of a relative is a complicated matter, but can be made much less complicated with proper planning.  In my book, "Boomer or Bust" I devote a chapter to all of the matters that should be considered when considering family caregiving.