Some of you reading the title for this article may be thinking that I’ve gone insane. It’s my mother, this is my way to show her how much I love her, right? Disregarding whichever justifications others can come up with, there is absolutely nothing wrong in being paid to care for a loved one.
Allow me to paint a typical caregiving scenario for you; you’ve left your job, you have utility bills to pay, you have to shop for groceries, specific meal plans to follow, medication, adult diapers and special ointments to purchase, doctor visits to pay for and possibly physical therapy twice a week. You may be at the final stage of your mortgage, have school or university fees, have your own home, a loan and a vehicle to maintain—this is just a drop in the bucket for some. Let’s go a step further, you are also diabetic so you need your meds, high blood pressure, your doctor visits, have house, vehicle, medical and life insurance to pay and possibly have your own home which you no longer live in full time. These circumstances can have a person feeling like his or her entire world is crashing down.
Then, there’s the family discussion. Your siblings want to hire a caregiver. In your head, all you can say is, “WHAT!” You just took early retirement or were possibly thinking about taking it to care for your loved one full-time, so what do you do? Well, why not suggest to be paid? You have bills to pay so, why not make sure that you are meeting your commitments by treating it as a job? With this arrangement, both your loved one and you will benefit.
One thing I always preach to any caregiver is to write everything down. As a family caregiver, we are accountable to log information in a book—this helps us to inform the doctor of any changes in our caree. Logging your caree’s daily routine and anything else you deem relevant will enable you to inform the caree’s family so that they understand that you know what you are doing and are working closely with their doctors. You need to sell yourself to family members. This gives them peace of mind and assurance. Knowing that it is not a burden for you and that you have structure and order can put anyone in opposition at ease.
If you have a system in place, you can go a step further and hire a caregiver, once finances permit. You will be there to ensure that: proper care is given, the care plan is followed and tasks are performed daily and correctly. You can also monitor how they interact with the caree and vice versa. This does not take away from you being paid, but you may realise that someone is only required for a certain period during the week.
How much should I get paid to care for mom or dad? Caregivers can make between $20 to $30 an hour depending on their qualifications. In the case of a family member, the family can decide on a fixed day rate of $250-$300, which covers 24 hours. You can decide charge only for weekdays and take the weekends unpaid or the opposite. There is flexibility with how discussion and payment can go. You can decide if out of what you are receiving, you’d like to pay someone to come in and do the housework or relieve you during the day. You have control over how this works for you, but every decision must be made in the best interest of the caree.
Now folks, don’t go ripping off your family members. I know you are doing the physical caring, but put yourself out of the equation. Remember, this is a conversation with the family. You can hear them out first, find out what they are able to afford and based on that, you can negotiate.
There are many family caregivers that are stressed, not only emotionally or physically, but financially. They are trying to do everything from their life savings (if any), parent’s pension or their retirement fund. Why should it be like this? Well, I think it is because many of us have failed to prepare and plan for old age, illness and care and recovery.
You may also be in a family where like me, you are the only child. So, what is the plan for payment? Firstly, contact the Division of Ageing and inquire, if mom or dad qualify for a pension and if there are any disability grants that are applicable to their condition. Caregivers, I beg you to stop letting your pride get in the way, these grants and pension plans are meant to assist persons in need. No one besides the agency will know you are getting this unless you go blabbing to everyone. So, if you have a big ego or, as we say, ‘false pride’, quietly fill out and submit your forms and with a great big smile on your face, collect your money at the end of each month. Any assistance you receive, take it, as it is better to have something rather than nothing at all.
Remember, this is a team effort; all parties need to be involved and, as much as possible, on the same page. Ensure you have the relevant evidence like your log book, to show that you are the best person for this position and why it makes more sense to pay you, rather than a stranger.
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