Question: My father lives about a 10 hour drive away. He is 80 and has health issues. He lives in a multi level house and has difficulty using the stairs. We have tried for years to relocate him but he has been there for 30 years and while he pretends to consider moving we know he will not. A woman with her 15 year old son has been staying there for years. They pay no rent or food and he pays for everything— even the son’s sports costs. He is paying her a salary and she has no car so she uses his. She has told us she needs more time off and she is stressed taking care of him. I was there two weeks ago. She pours a bowl of cereal, lays out his pills, and then visits her friends in the neighborhood. She announces she does not feel like cooking dinner and calls him cheap for not ordering take out. There is much more to this story. I guess I am looking for a starting point or some kind of support. If you live in a house overlooking the ocean, get room, board and transportation--and entertain your family on holidays--what kind of pay should you get?
Dr. Amy: It sounds like you may feel that your father is being taken advantage of. But as you say, there is more to the story. If your father is happy with his caregiving arrangement and is cognitively intact, the arrangement he has with this woman is really an individual matter. I know this may be difficult for you. One of the most challenging facts of life for adult children with older parents is accepting the fact that they get to make decisions that we may not like. If, on the other hand, your father is not happy with the caregiver and/or is cognitively impaired, you could call a homecare agency to get information about pay scales. And you could consult a lawyer about terminating her employment, if you felt you needed legal advice.
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