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Mom's Caregiver Is Taking Her to a Mystery Appointment with Her Lawyer

Caregiver Question:

"I live 1,000 miles away from my mother. She uses a live-in caregiver. I am concerned because Mom’s caregiver is taking her to a mystery appointment with her lawyer. When I asked Mother she quickly changed the subject. It could all be quite innocent, but something in my gut does not feel right. My mother really likes her caregiver, and so do we.  Should I be concerned? If so, what are my next steps?"

Mary's Answer:

In situations like this, I recommend trusting your gut. Something is giving you the impression your mother has become too close to the caregiver, and it may be best to act upon it. 

If your concern is about your mother's finances, the reality is that live-in caregivers quickly become aware of family situations and dynamics. It is impossible to hide every hint of wealth. The things we talk about and surround ourselves with make it quite apparent. Do not be surprised that your caregiver is attentive to such details. It is also important to note that the overwhelming majority of caregivers are honest people. In fact, caregivers are often wonderful individuals who sacrifice their personal and family time for yours. Unfortunately, as with any large sample of people, there are bound to be a few who hurt the reputation of the whole. Some unethical caregivers may gradually seek to replace family members for personal gain.

Your mother is vulnerable and dependent on the caregiver at this time, perhaps for the rest of her life. The caregiver may simply be doing his or her job, but your mother changing the subject when asked concerns me also.

I believe it is time for you to travel back home and spend some time with your mother and her caregiver. With day-to-day oversight, you will be able to get a sense of what is happening in her home. I also suggest that you reassess how your mother's money, credit cards, bank accounts, and bills are managed. A caregiver should not be asked to manage any of those things, as it is a clear conflict of interest.

When setting up a caregiving situation, I recommend carefully arranging the management and handling of money, valuables, and legal documents before any caregiver is brought into the home. If you are working with an agency, have that discussion with a supervisor from the agency. It is easier to handle these things proactively than to untangle a delicate situation later.

I wish you the best.

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