How do I become Mom’s caregiver?


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Dear Senior Living Adviser,
My mother can no longer live in her own home, and we’re having her move in with us. It’ll mean some compromises and sacrifices on everyone’s part, including hers. My husband and the kids are understanding, but are worried about what it means for us. Any thoughts on how to manage the transition to becoming my mom’s caregiver?
— Maggie Move-in

Dear Maggie,
It’s good that you’re thinking this through ahead of her moving in with you. While plans don’t always pan out, it has you considering the potential issues and how you can work through them.

You don’t say whether you’re her only child or if you have siblings, but getting any sisters or brothers involved in the decisions surrounding her care, including the financial aspects of being her caregiver, is important. You need to find time for yourself and your family, and siblings should help you find that time.

The financial issues are important, too. Will she be paying rent? Are you planning to ask her to pay for your time as a caregiver? It sounds harsh, but if you have to make financial sacrifices to take on this role, having your mom contribute financially makes sense. Putting a family caregiver agreement in place can spell out the financial part of the equation and can help avoid issues in her qualifying for Medicaid down the road if that ever becomes a priority.

Take advantage of any services your community offers for seniors, too. The Senior Living page on has a section on caregiving that can help with ideas on how to be there for your mother while meeting your other responsibilities as a wife and mother, and to yourself.

Ask the adviser

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page and select one of these topics: “Senior Living,” “Financing a home,” “Saving & Investing” or “Money.” Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.

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