Dear Annie: I am one of five middle-aged sisters. My father died four years ago, and shortly after, my mother moved to an apartment near me. As her health has declined, I’ve gradually become a partial caregiver. I am with her every day, sometimes for six hours or more. Mom insists on paying me. She can easily afford it. I was conservative with my hours, and the rate was comparable to in-home services. I am an excellent caregiver and pleased to help. Mom knows her care is better than she’d get anywhere else. She is content and wants to stay where she is. Her doctors concur.
After a year of “salary,” my sisters hit the ceiling. I am Mom’s power of attorney, co-trustee and executor, and I’ve been 100 percent honest. I love my sisters, but they have no faith in me. They have mentioned moving Mom away from me. Should I just go ahead and take over? Legally? Financially? Isn’t there a way we can all simply get along? – Outcast Sister
Dear Outcast: Taking over seems guaranteed to provoke your sisters. Instead, invite them to participate in Mom’s care. Explain in detail what Mom needs. Perhaps they would like to take turns caring for her to see for themselves the amount of time and effort required. Ask whether they would prefer hiring an outside caregiver, and let them research the cost. Show them in writing the number of hours you spend with Mom. They need to appreciate what you do without feeling guilty or resentful or, worse, thinking that you are not deserving of any compensation.