There are more than 65 million caregivers in the U.S. alone, but with 10,000 people turning 65 every single day, more and more caregivers will be needed to meet the rising demand in elder care. This increase in the need for caregivers has brought about an increase in the number family caregiver agreements being created.
What is a family caregiver agreement? Simply put, a family caregiver agreement “is a contract typically between a family member who agrees to provide caregiver services for a disabled or aging relative and the person receiving care” according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Knowing how to create a family caregiver agreement is not only important for your family, but also for ensuring that your loved one receives the best care possible.
Wondering how you can get started? Below are the five steps outlining how to create a family caregiver agreement.
What are your loved one’s needs?
This is without a doubt the first question you should ask yourself before drawing up a family caregiver agreement. We know this can be difficult, but try to remain as objective and as realistic as possible when assessing your loved one’s needs. The agreement should clearly define the caregiver’s responsibilities to help you avoid any possible communication problems in the future.
It’s also a good idea to have your loved one look over the agreement. They’ll be receiving the care after all, and there may be specific tasks not already outlined in the agreement that they would like assistance with.
Caregiving is a job…
… so you should treat it like one. As mentioned above, a job description outlining the caregiver’s duties should be included in the agreement. By having these duties outlined, it’ll be easier to assess a caregiver’s ability and willingness to perform the tasks outlined.
An added tip: include the allotted time for the caregiver to take advantage of respite programs and an approved caregiver to fill in during that time. Caregiving can be a very physically, mentally and emotionally draining job, so having this in the agreement will help prevent caregiver burn-out.
Create a financial plan.
As we mentioned above, caregiving is a job, so what does a job entail? A set salary. Before you determine a salary, research the average wages for similar work in your community. The U.S.’s Administration on Aging’s elder care locator is a good resource for answering all of your compensation questions.
When creating your financial plan, consider what kind of payment plan works for both you and the caregiver: periodic payment or a lump sum. It’s important to note that a lump sum payment plan could make qualifying for Medicaid eligibility easier than periodic payment, but consult an elder law attorney for assistance.
It must be in writing.
This is the simplest step but also the most important one: the agreement must be in writing. Keep copies of the agreement in a file with a medical report from your loved one’s doctor listing your loved one’s needs and any other required medical services. Finalizing a family caregiver agreement is really where an elder law attorney should come into play.
Involve all family members.
Creating this kind of agreement can cause some disagreements among family members. After all, it directly involves your loved one, and people may disagree on what level of care is necessary. This is another reason why hiring an elder law attorney may be in your best interest – they can act as a mediator of sorts should conflicts arise. It may also help to remember these tips on how to resolve common caregiving conflicts.