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Posted January 3, 2007

Ask An Expert

Caregiver Care: Stopping the Financial Bleeding of Care

Q. I have been my mother's caregiver for over two years. I took early retirement from my job at a bank and used my retirement to pay off some loans so my husband and I could survive financially. I was just wondering if there is any type of federal program that would financially compensate a family caregiver.

My mother has Shy Drager Syndrome and has to have someone around 24/7 to take care of her needs. I need to make some extra income because I have children in college and some mounting bills. Is there anywhere I can go for assistance?


Sue S., Fredonia, Texas.

A. There is no federal program or federal funding to financially compensate family caregivers. However, here are some other ways by which you might be able to ensure more income or offset expenses:

1. Contact the Area Agency of Aging. In Texas, phone 1-800-458-9858. Some states provide limited financial assistance under restrictive circumstances to family members who are helping to keep Medicaid beneficiaries at home who would otherwise be admitted to a nursing home.

2. Talk to an elder law attorney or financial planner if there are any assets which might be converted to cash. Consider the use of reverse mortgages or partial cash settlement of life insurance policies.

3. If your mother is over age 65 or disabled, you might be able to receive tax credits for costs related to medical care. Phone the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040 or consult with a tax advisor.

4. If your mother has available funds, you might consider a caregiver contract whereby your mother establishes a rate of pay for your services. I strongly advise talking to an elder law attorney so you and your mother avoid any financial or legal issues at a later date if you are interested in this avenue.

I hope some of these ideas will prove helpful. And please be sure to create a plan that provides not only for your mother’s long-term care needs but also ensures your own long-term financial future as much as possible.



This answer is provided by Paula S. McCarron, a writer with more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, including nursing homes and hospice. Her writing includes extensive reporting on caregiver compensation issues. She lives in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

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