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Should My Sister Be Paid to Take Care of Dad?


ISSUE NO. 113 - 8/5/2017


Our father is our sole surviving parent, and he is declining quickly. His mental ability to live independently is worsening to the point that he should no longer be living alone. My sister wants him to move in with her and for him to pay her for care. She is without a job at this time, and I believe she sees it as an income opportunity. I have mixed feelings about the situation. On one hand, it would be nice for Dad to live with my sister; though, on the other hand, it feels like she is after his money. That makes me uncomfortable. What are your thoughts?


At this point your father is going to require care, and there will be a cost associated with that care.  If he enters assisted living or has care coming into the home, he is going to pay for that care if he has the money to do so. 

In the old days, generations past, the women cared for the elderly. Indeed they were not paid with cash. The family also provided food, shelter, and clothing for the women who generally did not work outside of the home. Those were the days when family farms dotted the nation in an agricultural society. Fast forward to 2017, and most of us need to earn an income in the form of a paycheck outside of the home. Your sister is likely no different than the majority of Americans.

So, talk through the logistics with your sister to determine fair compensation for her work. I recommend an unbiased second opinion also. The reason for the second opinion is that neither you nor your sister will feel uncomfortable or taken advantage of. You may seek your father’s input as he is able, though at this point you are not describing an individual in rapid decline.

Be sure to discuss the long term, as your father’s needs will likely increase. Take into consideration housing and food costs, rental space, utilities, and time worked. Set appropriate and realistic compensation based on the usual rate for similar work. Make sure you are present and helpful, as caring for an individual around-the-clock is exhausting work, and your sister will tire.

I wish you and your sister the best as you navigate this next journey in life. If you work through the details up front, your path will have fewer rocks.