2/7/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

“Dad’s caregivers ask for money, even though we pay them well and treat them well,” says a reader. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson of Ask Amy says about caregiving professionals.

Dear Amy:

My father is 101 years old. He lives at home with us and contributes to the cost of his caregiver (about $5,000 a month).

We arrange for his caregivers through agencies. We are professional, polite, and provide a competitive salary above minimum wage, as well as paid sick leave, vacation, and a weekly “tip” to raise their wage to $20/hour.

We are middle-class retirees. We are not rich. Nevertheless, almost every caregiver we have hired (all through agencies) has spoken repeatedly about how their previous employers “considered them part of the family” and gave them money for a car, a house, or a gift in the elderly’s will.

We are treating the caregivers well and paying them professionally and appropriately; however, we want to continue to see them as employees, not family.

It is hard enough to have to have a caregiver in our home because we cannot physically see to all of my father needs, but the guilt and pressure several of these ladies have put on us (two women have even asked for a five-figure “loan”) makes us feel anxious and stressed.

I’ve been saying no, and changing the caregiver when the stress gets too bad, but it keeps happening.

Is this an expectation when you have a home caregiver?

– Worried

Dear Worried:

The AARP has extremely helpful information about elder financial abuse on their website: (search “prevent caregiver fraud”).

They describe the elder caregiving industry as “like the Wild West,” with some agencies not screening employees for experience or criminal records, and not providing training or oversight for caregivers.

Only use a bonded and insured homecare agency. This might be more expensive for you, but their employees should be well-trained, experienced, and professional.

As you know, qualified, competent, and kind caregivers are worth their weight in gold, but no caregiver should ever ask or pressure you or your loved-one for money beyond their salary. Ever.

Evidently, pressure to be included in an elder’s will is not uncommon. AARP cautions: “Advise the older person’s attorney of any suspected financial abuse, especially if a caregiver is exerting pressure to revise estate planning documents.”

Make sure you keep a close eye on all of your father’s accounts. Secure his cards, checkbook, and wallet in a safe.

You and your husband are going to have to be very frank and firm with all of the people coming into your home. Anyone asking to receive more money from you should be told: “This is inappropriate. Please don’t raise this issue again, with us or with Dad.” Report your concern to the agency.

If you suspect caregiver fraud or theft, contact the police and your local Adult Protective Service Agency. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative offers an elder fraud hotline (833-372-8311) and other resources, including a map of local agencies that can help.

You are elders, too, and you are also vulnerable to this pressure and coercion.

Related: What is professional in-home care?

Another caregiver responds to ‘Caregivers Ask for Money’

Dear Amy:

Thank you for running the question from “Worried,” regarding financial coercion by elder caregivers in her home.

In exposing this issue, you were advocating for good and responsible caregivers. We care very much about what we do. No caregiver should take advantage of an elder. It is a total violation of the trust they place in us, as well as our professional standards.

– Proud Caregiver

Dear Proud:

Many professional eldercare providers have contacted me to echo your response.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

Click here to read more Ask Amy columns curated for a baby boomer audience. 

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when professional caregivers ask for money to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

Amy Dickinson