Caring for aging parents
Caring for aging parents
Question: How should siblings compensate a sister or brother who lives near an aging parent and handles grocery trips, doctor visits, and other tasks? -- E.H., Bridgewater, N.J.

Advice from Money readers:

Develop an agreement before the care begins. Put all the details in writing. -- Anne-Marie Brillantes, South Nyack, N.Y.

I never accepted financial compensation for my time or gas when I was a caretaker, nor would I feel comfortable accepting it if offered. I did my service out of love and duty. -- Lisa B., Albany, Ga.

I was in a situation where I was the caregiver and another sibling did nothing to help, financially or otherwise. It would have been nice to get time off sometimes or help with things I couldn't do because of the time spent providing care. -- Pamela M., Binghamton, N.Y.

Siblings should take every opportunity to help -- maybe with an extra-generous gift at Christmas or a gift card for a restaurant. If the burden is large and consistent, it's reasonable to send a monthly stipend. -- Tom White, Chesapeake, Va.

The best way to compensate is to not critique the actions of the one doing the most. -- Paul S. Bresko, Maywood, N.J.

The expert take: This can be a very intense, emotional subject. There's a lot of resentment in some families. It may sound cold, but the best way to keep things calm is to draw up an agreement for the caregiver to get a certain amount, typically the standard hourly rate for professional caregivers in the region. Decide how siblings and/or the parents will split that cost.

In 90% of families, one person does most of the work. Beyond the hourly payment, faraway siblings can show their gratitude with small gifts or other thank-you gestures. -- Francine Russo, author, "They're Your Parents Too!"

By Ismat Sarah Mangla @Money - Last updated July 03 2012: 12:41 PM ET
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