When Rose Mary’s father could no longer take care of himself following a major heart attack, she was faced with a very tough decision. She could either help him move home or to an assisted living community, an idea that he firmly resisted, or become his full-time caregiver so that he could stay in the house he’d called home for more than 60 years.
Just two months prior to his heart attack, Rose Mary had gone back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. “I finally started earning money again and contributing financially to our family, which we really needed,” she said. Faced with having to give up her livelihood to help her father, Rose Mary looked into the possibility of getting paid to be her father’s caregiver. A few months later, she was earning a living caring for her father while he recovered from major cardiac surgery.
As a veteran, he was able to employ her to help him with his daily activities so that he could live comfortably in his home. “It works out so well for the both of us,” she said. “Caring for him is physically and emotionally harder than any job I’ve had, but it is also more rewarding. It only seems fair that family members should be paid for their hard work that is so often uncompensated.”
Caring for an aging family member is one of the toughest jobs there is. Luckily, there are ways that a family member can get paid as a caregiver in California for their aging loved one. Let’s explore the potential options for monetary compensation so that you can potentially earn an income while making it possible for your family member to age at home with dignity.
How Can a Family Member Get Paid to be a Caregiver in California Through Veterans Affairs?
There are a few different ways that you may be able to receive monetary compensation for caregiving for a family member in California. In Rose Mary’s case, her father was able to employ her through Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Aid and Attendance and Housebound are two of the programs that can increase a veteran’s monthly pension to allow them to pay for necessary caregivers and living support, though there are many others. If the veteran qualifies for one or both of these programs, they can design their own long-term care plan and choose to hire family members to be their caregivers.
The amount of financial support the veteran receives monthly depends on their health status and physical condition, but it can range anywhere between $1,400 and $4,000 a month. While there is no set amount for how much veterans are to pay family caregivers, the recommended amount is a minimum of $20 an hour. In addition to monetary compensation, there is also the possibility of receiving healthcare benefits as veteran’s primary family caregiver. Stipend benefit for personal care duties as a family caregiver given under the Caregiver Support Program offers another form of monetary compensation, however, this is different from the programs mentioned above and it does not consider the family caregiver as an employee.
Becoming a Paid Family Caregiver with Medi-Cal
Being the family caregiver of a veteran isn’t the only way that you may be eligible to receive payment. Medicare offers programs nationwide that aim to keep aging adults living in their homes by financially compensating family caregivers. Specifically, in California, California Medicaid (Medi-Cal) has a program called In-Home Support Services (IHSS) that offers aging participants the ability to “self-direct” their care. After receiving a medical assessment to determine eligibility for the program, the aging adult is given the responsibility to find and hire a caregiver to provide non-medical care.
IHSS programs tend to be very popular among families, with both adult children, relatives, friends, and spouses being eligible for hire and pay as a caregiver. The rate of pay is determined by Medi-Cal and often falls between $12 and $15 hourly, so it is possible to earn a decent living while caring for your aging loved one.
The Many Advantages of Receiving Pay for Family Caregiving
Looking after an aging loved one and being paid to do it is truly rewarding for both of you. It really is a scenario where everybody wins—you both get to enjoy quality together and deepen your connection with one another without the stress of losing your source of income. Knowing your aging loved one so well will also meet their needs with greater ease, whether you are helping them make their home more livable or assisting them in their daily personal care rituals. Being able to make decisions about their long-term care and having the resources to pay you for your work can also give them a strong sense of autonomy and pride.
This has certainly been Rose Mary’s experience in caring for her father. “I consider myself so lucky to be able to care for my dad on daily basis without worrying about falling behind financially,” she says. “We’re both so much more comfortable knowing that I am the one to be there for him every day, just like he was for me for much of my life.”
Family is, after all, a beautiful thing, and finding a way to make caregiving for an aging loved one possible is the greatest gift you can give them.
At Institute on Aging, we support older adults and their family caregivers with resources and services that make living independently possible and comfortable. Connect with us today to learn more.