For how many hours should we pay my sister's live-in caregiver?

25 answers | Last updated: Apr 02, 2015
Bobp asked...

My 87 year-old sister is having a friend move in with her to assist, cook and help with her to remain home. The friend will have free room and board and free use of my sister's car. My sister can still get around with a walker, dress herself, etc. How many hours per week do you feel were obligated to pay his hourly rate? He will have his own bedroom and bath plus a 500 square foot room in the lower level to use as his private living room.

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Caregiver pay is often a touchy subject for families. Room and board and a nice space is wonderful-----However it is difficult to know the benfit of having a friend living in house. One way to look at it is what you would have to pay an agency for live in care. It could run anywhere from $175.00 a day to $500.00 a day.

One important thing to do at the very beginning is to get clear and in writing what your sister's and the family's expectations are. What is he required to do? Also, what hours is he expected to be at home and with your sister? Is he expected to be available to take her to the doctor, hairdresser, shopping. Should he watch television with her in the evening? Will he do the laundry? What will happen if he gets sick? Who will take his place during his illness? Will he have any days off? Can he go out in the evening to a movie etc.

Can you help him and your sister to carve out a life for themselves which is nourishing to both of them. If this relationship meets the needs of helper and helped, it could go on for a long time. It could be of great benefit to the family as well. Without some mutual understanding of what is expected, it might not turn out well.

Without some mutual appreciation and formality and structure for communication, you can pay $5000 a month and it won't work out. If you can attend to these issues, you could pay $1500 and it would last a long time.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

$500 a week is good, i did it for over 10 yrs.and the job is 24/7...

Yanotk answered...

It appears to me that the writer of this question is looking to exploit the caregiver.

I think it is a pretty fair question. I am in the same situation and I dont know what to pay someone. The price that you pay a professional who has overhead (their electric in their office, their license to do business etc)should be different then what you pay for someone who is working independently.

Justdoit answered...

This is a very fair question that concerns primary caregivers all the time. I feel as though the responder was hedging on her answer. The range she gives is so wide that she really didn't answer the question. She may as well have just said "It's up to you what you want to pay."

Ggooden answered...

I have had a live in cargiver since 1992 formy husband who is completely dependent for all ADL's. I now pay $500per week. Also, I help with my husband's care in the evening when I get home. She gets one day a week off(Sat or Sun) She is like a member of the family, goes out to dinner with us and on family vacations. I also pick up small items, I think she would like(perfume soap,body lotion,hair trinkets).

A genuine good person providing care to a love one is priceless.

Eldercoach answered...

I really like the advice of getting really clear about expectations, what will the caregiver do, when is he on duty etc. This will have to be reevaluated regularly over time, say every 6 months to account for the sister's changing needs. When calculating the pay, I think it is important to know what an agency would charge for these services and what private caregivers in your area are making as live in companions, another piece of the picture is the value of the room and board that the caregiver is receiving. Certainly the value of room and board is part of his compensation. Please make sure you are covering the legalities of the situation by having the proper insurance to cover the caregiver and paying the correct payroll taxes etc.

Jovigirl answered...

they r on duty as long as the patient is awake, just like babysitting, you rest when the kids are asleep.what insurance?? it comes out of your pocket unless you are really poor, then you get shitty get what you pay for. we went broke taking care of my aunt we had to sell stocks to keep up w/ her care.

A fellow caregiver answered...

To avoid possible taxation of the room/board, your agreement should provide that room/board is required as a condition of employment. See Internal Revenue Code section 119 and regulations thereunder.

Phil the CPA

Hi Jovigirl If someone makes a certain amount of money you have to pay payroll taxes and workers comp insurance, if you are hiring them. Depending on what the caregiver has to do (transport and moving someone) they can easily get hurt if they are not trained right so wc is needed. The amount they can legally earn without you taking care of this is pretty low. If you hire through an agency then they handle the insurance and taxes. In some areas you can have an agency train the person you pick, handle all of the paper work and you pay them a fee to do this. It is kind of a weird set up but makes sense to me. That way a relative can do the work but still get paid and you are protected.

Jeneration answered...

Let's face it ... taking care of a loved one in their home is not a way to make money. It is an act of love and respect in my humble opinion. I've lived in my parents home, taking care of them for 2 years now following an accident my dad had at age 88. He requires full time care and would have been placed in a nursing home when he was released from a 2 month hospital stay. My mother at 90 was not able to take care of him and in fact needs more help herself than she did 2 yrs ago. If we had made the decision for him to be in a care situation they would have not been able to live together, and after a 63 yr marriage, that just didn't seem right to me. So, I have essentially put my life on "hold" and while I do not regret in any way my decision to do this, I do feel like the "system" is wrong for not "paying" me at least a portion of the cost that would be incurred if he was in a facility. I have no income save a little spending money that my mom is able to share, and of course a place to sleep. I truly believe that if Medicare were to make compensation allowances for the kind of care I provide, more adult children would consider taking on the responsibility and in the long run the cost would be less than nursing home care. My parents would not be able to afford a $500 per week live in helper.

If your parents are on medicaid you would be paid to take care of them. It wouldnt be pay for the time you really really spend but it would be something. My state pays for tasks so feeding them is so many minutes, dressing them is so many munites. I think it is less then minimum wage. My sister in law has ms and her daughter in law gets paid about 4 hours when she is there 8 hours. Spouses for some reason dont get paid even though they are the primary caregivers usually. You might check it out. My mom has too much money to qualify for medicaid. Paying me would "spend down" her money so that she is eligible but there is something about making her destitute that does not sit well for me so I just keep living on my retirement and have no money after bills. No debt -- thank God ---but no money either.

Yanotk answered...

Jeneration - so how much do you think Medicare should pay you? Would $1,000 a week do? I'd probably resent that because Medicare nickels and dimes me at every turn. I have to keep track of my test strip usage and I have to absorb the costs of when they don't notify me of changes and then change processes that result in me spending several hundred dollars that I wouldn't have spent if I had known.

I am not a conservative but my goodness, there is a limit on how much the "system" is going to provide for you.

Jeneration answered...

yanotk - I have no expectation of Medicare paying for anything, but it seems I've seen where the average cost for nursing home care can be upwards of $3000 or more per month. At the present time, my mom pays me $300 per month! so $300/week would be a huge improvement :) keeping in mind that they do NOT currently pay (but would if we went the nursing home route) anything but medical expenses.

Yanotk answered...

If you go the "nursing home route," which you apparently think is easily accomplished, you relegate your mom, in all probability, to pig sty.

Also to qualify in most states for Medicaid the person must be unequivocally and absolutely impoverished. In Maryland that's $2,000 in assets. If one gets Social Security that money goes to Medicaid. There is no exemption for a home or a car, although in some states there is an allowance for these assets. But with considerable limitations.

Many people perform highly creative illegal maneuvers to screw Medicaid but that is becoming much more difficult because assets can now be tracked quickly and accurately, not like the old days. But you won't be alone in trying.

You mention $3000 a month. Believe you me, if you can find a facility that is "livable" for that amount, grab it!

Turtlesgonecrazy answered...

i think i been taking my clinicals n the worst nursing home greenville SC, they say its the cheapest here,let me tell ya i dont care if it was 1500 month for a love one to b there,the staff is bad....for a nursing home the cheaper u pay the worst the care is.....things i seen that i cant get out of my mind...lady i took care of on friday,i went n today and still n clothes i put her n on friday...pull up was brown from pee....staff offer a drink they dont like it so they put there food and drinks back on cart of dirty trays(meaning they didnt eat cuz they didnt want a drink)and or cuz the was couching and hacking,or spit cuz they didnt like the taste or it...taking a huge bite of food pushing it n there mouth so hard u c there head go back...someone push a lady n the hall way and let her go....lady says i have to pee so they push her to the side and lock the wheel on her wheel chair....tell me not to let the lady get out of her wheel chair and sit n a rocking chair bcuz she wouldnt want to get back n her wheel chair...tell me we r babing them cuz we talk with them and take them outside and get them something to drink....they pick and choose who gets to get nails done,do activities,get special treatment.....maybe i got off the topic a little but just things that bug me to c and know about...and alot is over looked and or lied about....i know i could never work n a nursing home....i came to this site to c what the going rate was for a live n....i had a call about being a live n and asked what i was looking for,for pay as a live n. i had a live in offer for 800 month but didnt take it.....for many reasons not about the money but other..

A fellow caregiver answered...

Just recently went to Court with issues involving my brother, living free/clear with mom. We shared Durable POA and I had joint accounts with mom. Mom has been declared legally incompentent (dementia).

Dementia is a progressing disease. For over 2 years, I tried to conserve mom's assets for when she would progress to end stage. However, my brother felt thou he lived with mom, in her own home, his entitlement, and hired his daughter to care for mom. They continued excessive hours, continued to "badger and manipulate me", would prevent me from seeing her, so I would not be able to actually see what the extra hours were being used for.

Whatever you decide to do, I would insist on a Caregiving Contract I would consult with a lawyer, to dot the I's and cross the T's. Tax ramifications. (I tried to do, but my brother told me worried too much) Especially with family, I tried to give the benefit of the doubt.
I knew something wasn't right from the beginning. Go with your "gut feeling" My brother now has legal Guardanship, but there is now a Court-appointed Conservator. Let him "badger" the court for more money. He is now their headache....Good luck to you

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have been taking care of my mother for 10 years. We currently have her in a rehab since she broke her leg. We pay $155 a day for her care there. Just to be sure she is taken care of well, we pay an aide $16.00 an hour to be with her 6 hours a day. Take it from me, caregiving is the hardest job anyone can do and you will need time for yourself, to go to the grocery, etc. So if someone is willing to do this for you, you had better give them a wage besides room and board, or they won't stay, the stress of caregiving would not be worth it.

Kathleen in las vega answered...

when i am elderly if a friend moves in with me and takes care of me, i will leave the house to them as a life estate so when i die they can stay there until i die, then the relatives could sell the house, and if the caregiver is a good friend, and really helps me, i will leave them the house as well as take care of all expenses and give them money as well, the caregiving and the ability to stay in your house is worth its weight in gold, but is not right to take advantage of the caregiver--the room and board and then to be evicted upon the death of the friend is not right

A fellow caregiver answered...

If that's is your decision and that is what you waht, better put that all in writing. Better have your wishes in the Will, not just in some piece of paper, handwritten attached to the document. That won't hold up in Court.

And I notice you have a lot of when's, if's. Yes, it is difficult to foresee the future, Maybe for now, look into some long=term care insurance. I know I am...

Helloeveryone answered...

I get paid ONLY $160 a week cash. :(

I get free room (there is a large room and a second tiny one with a private bath on the top floor for me). I am allowed to have my 2 cats with me. but NO free FOOD as i am made to pay for ALL my own food out of my little $160 a week salary. There is a car there for me to use for errands where the gas is paid by him. he seems to think that is a big deal for me to have a car to use, even though 90% of it is used to run errands for him. only once in a while do I use it just for me to go out with.

i work 7 days a week for that $160 a week.

i am ONLY given a break to leave on sunday for 4 hours and tuesday for 4 hours that is when they have a caregiver from an agency come in to take care of him at those times. he only gets these agency caregivers because his insurance is paying for that service. one of those off times is for me to do HIS food shopping for the entire week. so that means i only am given 4 hours a week off just for ME. I NEVER have an OVERNIGHT time off... not even once and i have been there for over 1 year so far. having a boyfriend is impossible and so is a social life. no bonuses, no overtime, no vacations, or Christmas bonus , NOTHING! every once in a while i get an evening to go see my sister 2 times a month. there is NEVER a day I do not have to do something for him. never a day i am OFF. I cook, I do dishes, I clean the entire house, do all his laundry, i cut the contagious nail fungus from his toe nails when needed ...(the part-time caregiver REFUSES to to touch his feet) ... but i have to)

I give him ALL his medications and rub on him all his creams, I give him his showers, I dress him, I pick him off the floor if he falls, I help him every day to get up and be able to walk around the house or when he goes out. i drive him any where he wants to go when ever he wants to. I do ALL his errands for him day & night. i have to get up in the middle of the night if he falls down. I sew curtains for his house, repair his clothing if it needs to be fixed and fix other little things. I take out trash if needed, and have even done some yard work.

i told him I deserve to be getting at least $200 a week and he does not think so he thinks I am getting a great deal ....... a VERY great deal indeed he thinks

this make me sad to not be paid fairly

i am sad at being treated like I am not worth enough. i am sad that I even have to ask to be paid MORE. I asked & he ignores me!

he is NOT poor ..... far from it he and his wife own 4 homes in nice areas of town and have land in the country as well as they have their own business

i am sure he and his family would not want to be treated the way they treat me

but they think it is ok


A fellow caregiver answered...

To the last caregiver, if all you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt you) then that is horrible. Contact an agency of look for ads in the newspaper, you should be paid a LOT more with more time off. That is really sick that he thinks like that AND you have to pay for your food. We have a caregiver and pay a LOT more than that and I think we are getting a great deal - and it sounds like he has a lot more money than us. But at some point it is your own fault for putting up with that ridiculous wage!! Good luck

Schlefsky answered...

I am a caregiver work 24/7 with client. I charge 15.00 hour so 360.00 a day. But I do everything and sometimes I don't think it is worth it. But people are willing to pay because I am always there no matter what happens. I stay with them till the end. I deal with Hospice often.

Mizvic answered...

I am dealing with this as we speak.

My mother needs someone there 24/7, and my sister has asked if she can move in, have room and board, plus a weekly salary. There is a car provided that is insured.

Thank God my mom provided for her own care with a trust, should she need it. The money she allotted is enough to cover this.

I am grateful my sister has stepped up, and I think it's a fine idea that she receive pay.

Since I am disabled, I would have to hire a company to send in a person to stay with mom. That's okay too, but more costly and I would prefer my mom is cared for by family if possible.

I decided to call mom's lawyer and ask some questions. He told me we need a contract. It should have a termination date, so it can be reviewed and renewed if desired. A clause that either party can end the agreement for any reason, and a list of what is expected from the person living in. Also, if there are any problems, the contract can be voided.

I am having him draw it up now. It is very important to make sure anything you do is documented, so that it is legal.

Sweetpea54 answered...

Again for the caregiver getting paid 160.00 per week and buys own food they are taking you for a fool. They know they would have to pay 240-500 per day from an agency. People like that employ mostly southern uneducated black for that don't know better. I am a educated black caregiver. I charged 150.00 per day with food and every other weekend off for three days. You can actually sue them for back pay then you will be rich. as a live in you should not work for less than 120.00 per day. Their are labor laws also in place check them out get your money.