Is it morally and legally right to charge my father more for his care?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 28, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father (in his 90's) lives with me. We charge him $500. per month and provide for all of his needs. Because of his age, we gave him the master bedroom suite, with bathroom. He is in good health still very intelligent. I am one of five children and when he moved in three years ago, my four siblings agreed that they would visit and occasionally give us a break. That has not happened! I have reminded them and received promises that are never kept. My dad has SS and a pension and a bank account. I am co-signer on his accounts and will be executor of his will - mostly because no one else wanted the job. As a responsible manager, I have almost doubled dad's savings while he has lived here. When he dies, his estate will be split evenly among all of his children. At this point, my husband and I are angry at my siblings for their neglect and even though we don't need the extra money, I am thinking of doubling his rent. If I tell my father that I'm charging more, he'll say "fine"- money has no meaning to him anymore, his need a re met. Morally and legally am I in the right.

Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for

It happens too often that one sibling has to carry the extra workload of taking care of an elderly parent. It is commendable that you have stepped up to help your father. You may charge your father a fair amount for room and board and other services you provide. One thousand dollars per month seems to be a fair amount. You can check into the rental rates in your area to see how $1,000/mo. compares to market rentals. Don't forget to factor in food, laundry, housekeeping, transportation and any other services you and your family have been helping with.

To prepare for the possibility of your father going on Medicaid in the future, you should document in writing the services you are providing and the monthly payment. It never hurts to have a written agreement.

Community Answers

Ca-claire answered...

Take into account that as your Father ages, he needs more and more assistance with his tasks of daily living. Depending on where you live, $500/month for the master suite of a home is too low of a charge, especially when you take into account that it includes his utilities.

When a person lives in assisted living, the billing is broken out into normally 3 sections.

Rent - which includes utilities and housekeeping with bed linens and towels laundered. Meal plan - usually 3 times a day for Assisted Living - can range from $300-700/month depending on the facility and the contents of the menu that he may order from (I would go with the lower, since he would usually eat what you and your husband do). Assisted Services - there is normally a point system, then a charge per point - my Mother gets her medications given to her twice a day, which is charged at 3 points per month (1 point = $130/month). Dad is assisted in the shower every day which is 7 points per month. Laundry for one person being done once per weeks is 2 points per month.

You get the drift. Depending on where you live, the cost per point may be lower - I live in California, and this rate is fairly low per month for this state (which is usually higher than most places).

You also need to factor in how often you take him somewhere, as 'car' charges are $5 for under 10 miles 1 way, $10 for between 10 and 20 miles 1 way.

Sit down at a time when you can let go of the resentment of your siblings, and work out a schedule of charges which you feel would be fair for your Father. Chances are, he already knows that the other siblings are not interested in helping, and he would be more than happy to adjust the amount of the monthly payment. You could also check out an assisted living facility in the area on your own, and show your siblings a 'quote' of what it would cost to have your Father somewhere else. Then when they look at your schedule of charges, they will realize it's a bargain. If they talk about wanting to have your Father move to their home, tell them they need to spend a couple of weekends in your home while you are on a trip to see what the care needs are - chances are, after one weekend they will tell you what you are asking for is nothing.

Best of luck with this.

Sister margaret answered...

Thank you both. I will talk to my brothers and sisters and let them know what I think and get their feedback.

Dad had been paying $1000. plus utilities for his condo in NY state. He had $60,000. in savings when he moved here. He now has $120,000. I want to insure that he has enough if he needs more care than I can give, but at 99 yrs old I don't see a long illness in his future, and he has one of those life time medical plans from his employer.

Ca-claire answered...

What a wonderful Money Manager you are! You should be very proud of your ability to manage your Father's money! Your siblings should be very grateful as well. Best wishes with your journey with your siblings and your Father.