Eldercare Ordeal

18 Sep

Letterbalm Two Hands GrippingDear LetterBalm: I have three siblings, and I’m the one who is caring for our mother. She’s frail with major health issues and, at almost 90, not as lucid as she once was. She needs constant care. I’m the oldest, her only unmarried child. I retired and sold my condo to move into our family home to live with her. The problem is that my sister and brothers resent that I’ve asked to be paid to care for her. They say that because I’m family, I should do it for free. This is causing arguments, and everyone – down to the grandchildren – is taking sides. I want everything to be done fairly, including the disposition of Mom’s estate when the time comes. How do I convince everybody?

–Not Nurse Ratched

The first thing you must do is seek a private consultation with an impartial eldercare lawyer or specialist so you can present some professional information to your family. Ms. L.B. wants all of you to know that the laws are complex, and if you don’t get it right, it can present expensive problems down the road when the family is dealing with your mom’s estate. And, you need a neutral party to tell everyone that paying you to care for your mother may well be the most economical solution. After you meet with the attorney, sit down with your siblings and say this:

Guys, we all want to stop fighting over Mom’s care, and I may have some answers. I had a consultation with a specialist in eldercare. He’s a lawyer who was recommended by the local hospice association, so he’s impartial and very experienced. We have to consider making a plan for Mom’s care and, as painful as it is, for the disposition of her things after she passes on. Otherwise, we’ll be fighting for years – and we all remember how Great-Aunt Agnes’ family fought over her estate. The lawyer says that we four kids get to sign off on everything. We have to focus on Mom’s care – that’s the most important thing. If we listen to an expert on how to take care of her most cost-effectively, we’ll also be giving her the nurturing and attention she needs. Let’s make an appointment to see him right away.

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