2011 Tax Tips for Caregivers by ElderCarelink

Posted on March 28, 2012

With the tax deadline looming, be sure to include all deductible costs you pay for senior care on your returns. Whether your loved one is in assisted living facility or using in-home care services, you may qualify for deductions and credits for the associated costs of their care.

Here are some key tax points to consider:

1.Claiming your parent as a dependent. You must be paying more than half the cost of your parent’s care. If qualified, there’s a reduction of your taxable income. Your parent does not have to live with you. But to qualify, your parent’s annual income must be less than $3,700. See IRS Publication 501: Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information for more details.

2.Claiming modifications to your home. You may claim a medical expense for modifications made to your home in order to accommodate their medical needs. However, your parent must have been your dependent at the time (either expenses were paid or medical services were rendered). Be sure to consult your tax professional as other rules apply to claiming modifications as a medical expense.

3.Deducting the costs for medical expenses. If you are able to claim your parent as a dependent, then the IRS may allow you to claim a deduction of your parent’s medical expenses. The expenses for your parent’s medical care must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income to qualify.

4.Deducting the costs for assisted living or in-home care. For your parents to qualify for tax considerations, a licensed health care practitioner must have formally determined during the last 12 months that your dependents are unable to care for themselves. It’s important to meet with a tax preparer to go over all of the requirements of deductions associated with your parent’s care. Remember, in each case, you must provide adequate documentation for the IRS to qualify. Taking care of your parents can be challenging. Knowing that you can ease your own burden come tax time makes it easier to opt for the right level of care for the ones you love.

Source: ElderCarelink.com

Submitted by Gabriela F. Brown, CSA

gbrown@constantcompanions.net

www.constantcompanions.net

A Few Simple Steps to Avoid Senior Financial Abuse

Posted on March 3, 2012

The time has come. You are in need of home care services. Chances are good that this need has been preceded by some sort of crisis; a hospitalization, death of a spouse
or a sudden decline in health. Likely, there are so many things to think about
and arrange. There may be a variety of service groups coming in and out of your
home to assist you in this transition; home health care, home care, hospice,
durable medical equipment, housekeeping services and an increase in friend and
family visits. The last thing on your mind may be the location and security of
your valuables and financial instruments.  This is why it is essential to locate and
secure these items PRIOR to the need for these services.

Most senior home care service companies do their best to assure that the personnel that they are sending into your home are honest by conducting background and reference checks. Here is the problem, background checks are great for weeding out the prior offenders, however, no background check can detect if someone has never been caught or predict if they are going to steal in the future. Simply put, there is no way
to guarantee that you will not be a victim of theft or financial abuse.

There are things that you can do, BEFORE a crisis (right now) to prepare yourself:

  1. Locate all valuable items, i.e., jewelry, checks, credit cards, etc.  Inventory what you have and identify if you are currently missing something. This will prevent confusion after the fact if you go look for something and it isn’t where you thought it was.  Why? We once had a client who insisted that she had left some diamond earrings in her bathroom. She accused her caregiver of stealing them. Of course, we immediately removed the caregiver and reported the worker to Adult Protective Services.  Two months later, we received a call from her daughter, apologizing that her mother had found her earrings in a different spot and hadn’t recalled moving them there.
  2. Once you do need someone caring for you at home, secure all financial instruments and jewelry in a lock box in your home. Put the key where only you would know where it is and give a copy of the key to a trusted individual or in a safety deposit box.
  3. Never give your PIN to anyone in your employ.
  4. Never allow anyone to go to the bank for you to take out cash, via check, etc.
  5. Report all suspicions or missing items as soon as possible to any company coming in and out of your home. If you are working with a home care agency make sure they are responsive to your concerns and act quickly to resolve the issue.
  6. Do not give cash or check bonuses directly to home care workers, make sure that the agency they work for is notified and has an opportunity to copy the bonus check and document the gift to avoid any future misunderstandings or opportunities for financial exploitation.
  7. If a caregiver asks you for money directly for ANYTHING, immediately report it to their agency. As benign as this may seem, it is considered ‘abuse of
    position
    ’ and is covered under the law as follows:

Financial Exploitations –Financial exploitation means a situation in which a caretaker or any other person who is in the care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust
to, a resident, takes, secretes, or appropriates their money or property, to
any use or purposes not in the due and lawful execution of his or her trust. In
the simplest terms, the person who is acting as a caretaker unlawfully takes
money or property of the resident. This also includes a request for transfer of
property by the resident that was not carried out.

Most caregivers are good people interested in your well-being. They are also
hyper-aware that they are most likely to be blamed if something goes missing in
your home. If you follow the above guidelines, it should protect both you AND the
people working for you.

If you find that you are a victim of financial abuse or theft, PLEASE follow through with filing a complaint with Adult Protective Services and any charges against the person suspected of committing the crime. It is up to you or your family to see that charges are filed. This may be very uncomfortable and stressful but it is VITAL. Without convictions and a subsequent record to detect on a future background check, there is nothing to
prevent that same person from moving on to another agency or to hire themselves
out privately and continue their predatory ways.

Submitted by Gabriela F. Brown, CSA, Owner of Constant Companions Home Care, San Diego and S. Riverside. Website http://www.constantcompanions.net email: gbrown@constantcompanions.net