Being a family or nonprofessional caregiver is a labor of love. Despite not having much or any formal training, and despite the fact that caring for an elderly person can be an incredibly draining process, millions of Americans provide care for their aging loved ones every day, giving massive amounts of time, energy, effort, and monetary sacrifice. Taking time out of work to make doctor's appointments, making changes to the home in order to provide for the safety and needs of a senior, and even helping with healthcare payments add up to make caregiving a costly act for the caregiver. Yet there are ways to recoup these losses in funds.
Disability.gov says that informal care was valued at over $200 billion. That is a lot of money. Rather than allowing nonprofessional caregivers to go into debt, risk losing jobs or homes, or suffer undue anxiety concerning money, there exist programs and options to pay for nonprofessional care for an aging loved one.
While it depends largely on the situation and has to be considered on a case-by-case basis, this compensation may be available from several different sources: government plans, veterans benefits, insurance, disease-specific organizations, and even personal contracts.
State Plans and Veteran Benefits
Some states have created programs which allow nonprofessional caregivers to be compensated. The availability of such programs depends entirely on locale, but they are worth researching. By contacting state and local officials responsible for disability and age-related care, Medicaid, or the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services, information about whether or not a particular state provides for these programs may be found.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), a federal program designed to help nonprofessional caregivers cope with the financial burden of caregiving, can help if the recipient of care is over the age of sixty. This is done through state or local departments, but it can be accessed through the same avenues listed above. Local age-related government agencies can point to accessing these services in a particular area.
Veterans also may have access to funds to pay for care. In fact, a 2010 law, according to AARP, will give a monthly stipend payment to anyone caring primarily for veteran injured in conflicts after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. While this may not include many aging people, there are related programs and possibilities available through the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs. This may take the form of insurance, monthly stipend payments, travel, respite care, or general aid in paying for healthcare.
Some seniors are able to get long-term care insurance, which may help to cover home care to some extent. This depends entirely on the policy, however; so the insurance agent must be contacted for documentation on whether or not this is possible, and, if so, how much compensation is available.
These are not always plentiful, but some organizations are able to help individual caregivers through various financial assistance methods. That is something that can be examined based on medical diagnoses and what organizations are actively trying to help caregivers who are helping those with a particular diagnosis. Cancer is a disease with organizations that fund caregivers, but there are also resources for those helping the visually impaired, physically disabled, or those with diabetes.
Some seniors or their family members may agree to pool their funds in order to pay one person or compensate one family to care for an aging loved one. This may amount to saved money from the senior or money from others, such as their children, who are able to assist financially. Again, this must be organized and negotiated on a case-by-case basis, but it can be a great way for a family member or family to be compensated for caregiving efforts. As with all contracts, it is best to consult a lawyer specializing in this field so that expectations and obligations are clear.
Administration for Community Living. Administration on Aging: National Family Caregiver Support Program (OAA Title IIIE). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://www.aoa.acl.gov/AoA_Programs/HCLTC/Caregiver/#10Anni. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
Disability.gov. Disability.gov's Guide for Family Caregivers. Available at https://www.disability.gov/resource/disability-govs-guide-family-caregivers/. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
Family Caregiver Alliance. Most Frequently-Asked Caregiving Questions: Can I get paid to care for a family member? Available at https://www.caregiver.org/frequently-asked-questions#faq1. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
Levine, Carol. Can I Get Paid as a Caregiver? (January 15, 2016). AARP.org. Available at http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-06-2012/can-i-get-paid-for-taking-care-of-my-mother.html. Retrieved April 20, 2016.