Footing the bill for aging parents


Are adult children legally responsible to pay for their parents’ care? You may be surprised to learn that in 30 states, including California, there’s a law on the books that declares adult children have a duty to pay for care for their impoverished parents. Filial responsibility statutes, as they are called, require an adult child to reimburse state programs or institutions that have provided food, clothing, shelter and medical attention for their parents who no longer have enough funds to pay for themselves. Surprised? The statutes have a long history, dating back to England in the 1600s. They were adopted by the American colonies. In those times, they put into law what was considered a moral duty—that blood relatives take responsibility for supporting family members, including aging parents. In the 1930s, Social Security arrived, providing income for the majority of seniors in retirement. And in 1965, Medicare came along, with the intention of giving every senior access to...

What turns us into caregivers?

man in wheelchair

For Mary, it was when she began taking her dad to doctor visits. For Janice, it was when she began helping her mom in the bathroom. For John, it was when his parent’s overdrawn bank account forced him to start handling their financial affairs. For my sister, it was when my mom needed help showering my dad. That’s when each one of them identified as caregivers. Whether helping with personal care, running the household, assisting with financial transactions, managing medications, driving or helping an aging loved one to deal with escalating emotional or physical challenges, baby boomers are at the tipping point of the caregiving tidal wave. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 1 in 3 American households includes a caregiver. So why is it that many of those caring for an aging loved one don’t see themselves as caregivers but simply as “good children”? Author Nancy Mattia says self-identifying as a caregiver can make a huge difference in how that role affects a...