As a family caregiver, you might have found yourself taking on a disproportionate share of care responsibilities. There are many reasons somebody would take on the role of primary caregiver, such as living nearby or having the closest relationship with the care recipient. However, taking on the lion’s share of responsibility can lead to resentment, burnout, and financial strain. As Aging Care writes, “a competent and capable adult child who has taken on this role typically begins doing more and more until they become solely responsible for most or all of the caregiving duties.”
34 million Americans serve as unpaid family caregivers, and as AARP found in their 2021 study, they spend an average of $7,242 a year on caregiving-related costs, or 26% of their income. This is on top of the unpaid care they provide, leading to financial strain for many family caregivers. It is important for the primary caregiver to seek the support of other relatives, so that they do not put themselves into a precarious situation as a result of caregiving.
Asking Relatives to Financially Assist Your Care Recipients
As the primary caregiver, you are likely handing the bulk of day-to-day caregiving tasks, such as housekeeping, medications, and appointments. Other loved ones might not be able to help very much with these responsibilities, due to distance, other commitments, or temperament. If this is the case, have you considered whether they would be able to provide any financial assistance to your care recipient? Since you are providing the majority of physical care, other family members may be able to step in and provide support in a way that is more accessible to them. For many people who lack time, financial support is a resource they are able to share instead.
Tips to Have a Financial Conversation
1. Open yourself up to support
Just because you’re the primary physical caregiver, it does not mean that you need to be the only person providing support to the care recipient. Open yourself up to the idea that other people might be willing – or even happy – to help in ways that are available to them.
2. Open up the dialogue
Make sure other relatives understand the complexity of the situation. Remember that you are the only one living the day-to-day reality of caregiving. Your other relatives might not be as familiar with your care recipient's resources or needs, and therefore simply might not know that additional support is required. Start the conversation by sharing an unfiltered view into where things stand today, so that other relatives can understand the situation.
3. Don’t make assumptions
Go into this conversation with an open mind, and don’t make assumptions about your relatives’ resources. We never know the reality of somebody else’s financial situation. It’s important not to assume which relative does or does not have the ability to provide financial support.
4. Ask for help
Instead of making demands, ask for help. As money.com suggests: ask, don't tell. Asking relatives what they can contribute works because “You're probably not fully aware of your sibling's obligations and resources, so putting this question to them – rather than making a demand – will help you figure out a reasonable care-sharing strategy.”
5. Partial support is still support
Remember that even if nobody is able to completely support the care recipient themselves, every contribution matters. Let’s say that your care recipient receives $2,000 per month in social security benefits, but their expenses are $3,000 per month. If you have one sibling able to chip in $500 per month, and another who can do $300, that only leaves you with a gap of $200 instead of $1,000. It adds up, and all contributions matter.
6. Try to make it equitable
As the Balance Money points out, “It’s common for siblings to have unequal financial resources, and that’s often a point of contention when helping your parents plan their estate.” Work to understand what type of support each relative can provide. It doesn’t need to be equal, but it should be equitable, with everybody pitching in to provide support in whatever way is accessible to them.
7. Adapt as needed
Try to come up with an initial game plan, but agree to iterate as needed. Perhaps one sibling gets a new job, meaning that they can now pitch in more money but will have less time available to physically provide care. Remember that life ebbs and flows, and responsibilities will adapt as time moves on.
Getting Paid as a Caregiver
Whether or not family members are able to step in and help pay for your care recipient’s needs, you deserve to be paid for your work as a family caregiver. At Aidaly, we’re here to help you get paid for the work you already do. If you are a family caregiver and would like to explore getting paid for your work, join today. Qualifying for benefits is easy – you just need to provide us with some basic information and we’ll take care of the rest!