Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lifespan Respite Care Act funding, and other things

Doing some research this morning, I see that HR 3248, the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006, did actually become law during the 109th Congress, under former president Bush, with link here.

But according to a USA Today article by Mindy Fetterman back on June 27, 2007 it hadn’t been funded. It aimed at providing certain kinds of help to people who gave up their jobs to provide unpaid care to elderly parents or other relatives, with link here. For example, social security benefits for the caregiver could be based on the highest years of earnings, caregivers could place their loved ones in publicly supported respite care centers, and caregivers could claim tax credits. Back then the AARP reported $2400 out of pocket expenses experienced on average by family caregivers.

ABC ran a similar story by Fetterman on June 27 2007, “Becoming ‘parent of your parent’ can become an emotionally wrenching process”, link here.

I’m not “for sure” where all this funding stands now, but I’m surprised that I don’t hear more about it in the health care debate. Many of the stories concern parents who themselves are nearing poverty. Sometimes, parents, especially elderly women, have been left well provided for but want personal attention from their own family members rather than hired care. Other times, some people use the need for care to manipulate spouses emotionally.

Is it “selfish” to nudge the parent toward a retirement home? What if the adult child then remains in the parent’s home and looks after it. Should the child “charge” for services and pay market rent at the same time? There’s not much that’s easy to find online about this, beyond IRS Publication 527 (link; see Section 5 especially). It would seem that if the parent comes home occasionally to enjoy the home or yard, that’s personal use (which means they can’t claim depreciation or expenses against any rent that the adult child pays). I would think that the adult child should pay market rent for the space that he or she actually would use (like that of a typical apartment) if the caregiving need had not occurred. But I can find little or nothing written about this online.

Here’s a CNN Money story that may provide a little insight.

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