In a blog last week, we offered guidance on finding a good long-term care bed in Georgia. Many readers reached out to remind us that long-term care does not have to mean institutional living. It is true that millions of families provide care in their own homes using family, informal, or paid caregivers. These families that are able to rely on their support system, resources, and community providers to meet their needs are “aging in place”—a situation that many older Americans desire. The idea of having a stranger in your home can be overwhelming. What if they are unreliable, irresponsible, or even negligent? What if they are criminals? What if it’s too expensive?
The vast majority of caregivers are honest, hard-working, compassionate professionals. You can protect yourself, though, by avoiding these four mistakes:
- Paying individual caregivers “under the table” — It may be tempting to hire an independent caregiver, or one that does not work for an agency, because of the cost savings; but doing so can leave you in violation of IRS laws if the appropriate taxes are not filed and paid. Furthermore, reputable agencies are bonded and insured, protecting you from liability and theft. They also provide supervision, background checks, and back-up coverage for when the regular caregiver is not available.
- Allowing the caregiver to have too much control or access — It is important for the family members to stay involved in their loved one’s care even when trusted caregivers are in place. When the healthcare decisions, medication management, and financial decisions are left to the older adult and caregivers without monitoring by family members, the older adult can be vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. Family members should stay informed and aware of what is happening in their loved one’s life.
- Naming a caregiver as a healthcare or financial agent — It may seem unlikely, but this happens all too often! A trusted caregiver that has been with a family for years will be named as the healthcare or financial agent on powers of attorney out of a desire for efficiency and with a false sense of security. Older adults feel like their trust will not be betrayed by their loyal companion, but this situation puts the older adult in a vulnerable situation.
- Not having a backup plan – Aging in place with caregivers is a great idea, but it may not be the best idea for the entirety of a person’s final years. Eventually, skilled care may be required or finding 24/7 caregivers to come to the home may be too challenging or too expensive. Every family should have a plan for when/if staying in the home no longer works.
Making the decisions about how to care for your aging loved one is stressful and confusing. The team at Hurley Elder Care Law can help you find, get and pay for good long-term care. To receive a complimentary phone consultation, please contact our office at (404) 843-0121.