Florida Attorney answers question about live-in caregivers

Question:  My 95-year old Aunt who lives in Florida has a private, live in – caregiver.  The caregiver insists that Florida Law requires 2 hours off for every 12 hours worked.  She says if she doesn’t actually take time off, she’s entitled to pay.  She’s basically charging my Aunt for 28 hours a day!

Does Florida Law require this?  What are rules / standards for live-in caregivers who work 24/7?

Answer:  Although this is more of a Labor Law question (not my field of expertise) than an Elder Law question, I will offer what I do know.  Federal Labor laws generally govern wage and overtime requirements.  Presently, however, in-home health care “professionals” are exempt from those laws meaning that the employer is not required to comply with those minimum wage and overtime regulations.  I can tell you that the industry standard for in-home health professionals is that they are to have at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.  Your fact scenario then raises an interesting question, if your aunt’s caregiver is not getting 8 hours of sleep at night, the quality of care and attention your aunt is receiving from this person could be compromised.

Although there is some movement in the Department of Labor in Washington to remove the exemption as it applies to professional home health care providers, I know of no one in the home care provider field who recognizes the “two hours off of or two hours of pay” you speak of.  If this is an independent provider she may either have misconstrued something she heard or is making up her own employment requirements.   You can visit the website for Labor and investigate the status of the pending work on the revising the exemption statute at www.dol.gov.

Beverly J. White, Esq.
The Law Firm of Beverly J. White, P.A.
Tampa, Florida  33624
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter 

Florida Attorney Kantner answers Elder Care Question on ElderCareMatters.com

Question:  “My parents live in Melbourne Florida. My Dad has dementia and my mom is the primary caregiver. They live in their home. The house they live in is in a trust. They do not have a lot of money. My Dad is a vet with a 15% Hearing Disability. 

I have a 3 part question:  

  1. What are their options for care – Especially for my Dad.
  2. Being a vet is my Dad able to get Veterans Aid and Assistance?
  3. Should they move to Assisted Living Facility or Retirement Community? 

We just don’t know which way to go – Thank You.”

Answer:  There are various options available to your family for the future care of your father.  Your father can inquire into a home health care agency to help him stay at home by providing various functions and services to him depending upon his individual needs after being medically assessed.  The next level if that option is not available is an assisted living facility (ALF) where he may get assistance with some of his living activities but generally retains some level of independence.  Finally, a nursing home will provide comprehensive, full-time residential care services for those that require more advanced medical and physical assistance.     

Because you note that your father is a Veteran, it would be advisable and worthwhile for you to explore VA Pension Benefits with an Elder Law attorney who is also a VA accredited attorney.  Most Veterans and their families know about the disability pension available through the VA, however very few Veterans know about The VA Improved Pension, which is not dependent upon any service connected injuries or disabilities.  This benefit was established to help Veterans and their spouses live out their lives with dignity by assisting them with their financial needs.  There are different programs, so by meeting with an accredited VA attorney you will be able to determine which programs for which you father may be eligible.  There are three types of Special Monthly Pensions (SMP) to offset the cost of necessary health care.  The three SMPs are “Low Income Pension,” “Housebound” benefits, and “Aid and Attendance” benefits. 

There are qualification standards in order to be eligible for any of the three pension benefits, so it is not available to every Veteran.  In order to qualify, the Veteran must be disabled or over the age of 65 and in financial need, and has been discharged honorably, serving a minimum of 90 days, at least 1 day of which was during a period of war.  Financial need is determined by evaluating the net worth of the Veteran or surviving spouse, as well as the gross annual income.  The income limits noted below are 2012 figures and are subject to change annually. 

To be eligible for the Low Income Pension, in addition to the above requirements, the Veteran and one dependent, for example, may have income of about $1,300.00 a month.  The Low Income Pension is similar to SSI benefits. 

Eligibility for the Housebound benefits program limits the Veteran and his/her dependent to monthly income of about $1,560.00.  This program is suited for the Veteran who is determined to be disabled and confined to home.  If the Veteran is over the age of 65, a disability rating is not required but a physician’s affidavit substantiating the Veteran’s condition will be required. 

The third program that is available, called Aid and Attendance, assists veterans and their surviving spouse who requires the aid and attendance of another person in order to avoid the daily hazards of their living environment.  The monthly income limit for this program is about $2,020.00.  Typically, the Veteran is living at home or in an assisted living environment. 

You should inquire whether or not your father is receiving VA Disability Compensation if the 15% hearing disability you note stemmed from an injury received while on active duty and have been administratively approved by Department of Veterans Affairs officials, commonly referred to as a Disability Rating. 

If Veterans benefits are not available or appropriate for your father’s situation, other benefits, such as the Medicaid Institutional Care Program (also a needs-based program), should also be explored to help them afford his long term care needs.

I hope that I have answered your questions and reiterate the importance of consulting with a qualified and experienced attorney to direct you and your family through this complicated set of rules and regulations.

Richard I. Kantner, Jr., Esq.
The Kantner Law Firm, PL
St. Petersburg, FL  33701
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter

Florida Elder Care Experts to answer your questions next week on ElderCareMatters.com

Question:  My family and I have been following for some time now the Q&As provided on this wonderful site.  We were wondering when you will provide Florida families with the opportunity to ask questions of the members of the Florida chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.  We would appreciate having the opportunity to have our questions about elder care matters answered by Florida Elder Care Experts.

Answer:  Beginning next Tuesday, May 29th we will post for a couple of weeks on ElderCareMatters.com Questions about elder care matters that we receive from Florida families and Answers to these questions as provided by members of the Florida chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

So if you have a question about a Florida elder care matter, send us an email (along with your name) to: Questions@ElderCareMatters.com and one or several of our Florida Elder Care Experts may answer your question on ElderCareMatters.com.

Thank you for your support of ElderCareMatters.com and for relying on us to help you and your family plan for and deal with your elder care matters.

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder & CEO
ElderCare Matters, LLC


Today’s Q&A on ElderCareMatters.com is about moving an elderly parent

Question:  Mom currently lives in an assisted living community in Phoenix Arizona, but because of a change in my job (I am her only living relative), it is necessary for her to move to California. How do we go about getting mom moved from an assisted living facility in Arizona to an assisted living facility in California? Please provide me with a “road map” so to speak. Thank you.

Answer:   Helping a parent move can be stressful, especially if that move is long distance. The job can be made less overwhelming by good planning. The big decision to move will be made easier by turning the process into a series of smaller decisions and tasks. Teaming up with senior service providers will make the physical and emotional tasks easier.

PLANNING should be your first step.  Develop a timeline. Decide which parts of the move you will do,   and which parts you need help with.  Decide where she will move to.  If  you need help, a geriatric social worker or a Senior Placement Counselor can help you locate an assisted living facility that is appropriate for her needs and resources. Talk to the Move-In Coordinator to find out the rules and schedules for moving in. You may also want to obtain a floor plan of her new apartment to help you decide which furniture to move and where it will  be placed within her room.

Another aspect of planning is to decide how you will move your mom’s furniture and possessions. You can rent a van and drive it yourself. You can use a U-pak service like PODS who will transport your items after you pack them into a container (which they provide and deliver.) If you are moving a small amount you may choose to send it via a freight company or UPS. Finally, you can schedule a move with an interstate mover.  How you choose to move her things will be determined by what she is moving, your time availability, physical ability, and financial resources. Schedule your mover as soon as you are sure about the date and location. Sometimes it takes awhile to get on a schedule.

PACKING You didn’t say the degree to which you are able to be involved in the your mother’s relocation.  Are you planning to go there and help her organize, downsize, and pack?  If so, allow enough time that you and she are not rushed.  It is always a good idea to use new boxes and packing paper, not salvaged boxes. Boxes need to be of a uniform size,  taped closed, and strong enough to stack.  If you are not able to do the packing yourself, you may want to hire a professional move manager,  who specializes in working with older adults.  A move manager understands the  needs and limitations of elders. They will also know the local moving resources. Typically a move  manager will provide boxes.  Some will be able to help you load a van or pod if you choose that route.  A move manager knows how to downsize with sensitivity;  in all probability they have a working relationship with the facility where your mom is now living.  Another benefit of using a move manager is that she will know how to contact other move managers who service the residence where your mom is moving into.

It is a good idea to take with her valuables like jewelry, keys, eyeglasses, medicine, personal phone book, and anything she will need as soon as she arrives. In some cases there will be a difference in time between her arrival and the delivery of her things. Most assisted living communities have furnished rooms for short term occupancy.

Don’t forget to file a change of address with the Post Office, arrange to change her bank accounts and any automatic deposits. Notify her doctors, dentist, caregivers, and other service providers.

RELOCATING YOUR MOTHER Your mother may be able to travel alone, if not you will need to drive her or fly with her.  Consult her doctor for advice and any needed medications. If you are unable to travel with her, you can hire a travel companion. Some move managers provide that service. Caregivers services can drive her to the airport and, if you want, fly with her. Airlines offer limited companion services similar to those provided to unaccompanied minors.

UNPACKING will take the same amount of time as packing. Your mom will adjust to her new residence faster if her things are put away where she is used to finding them.  A move manager in your area can help you unpack, set-up her new apartment and remove the boxes.

ATTITUDE is as important as logistics to a successful move. Listen to your mom and let her express her   preferences about where she will live, what to take or leave, and how her new residence will be set up. Treat her with respect and tact. Recognize the difficulty of moving away from familiar surroundings and routines. Avoid becoming critical or impatient. Be realistic about the time needed to accomplish a move. Remember the most important thing is to accomplish her move with minimal disruption to your lives and your relationship.

Jamie Wasson, CRTS, Managing Partner
easyMove, LLC
Pleasant Hill, California
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter

Today’s Q&A on ElderCareMatters.com is about whether elders should gift to their adult children

Question:  I am 75 years old and have a modest amount of savings, a home without a mortgage and a small retirement pension plus my monthly social security check.  I am in relatively good health, and quite candidly hope to live for another 10-15 years.  I have one child who is in her 50s but can’t seem to keep a job or a marriage.  She is again without a job and is now divorced for the 3rd time.  My question is whether I should start gifting her my money and perhaps gift her my home as well in anticipation of my needing nursing home care in the future.  What would you recommend I do from a financial planning perspective, factoring in the fact that elder care cost so much in California?”

Answer:  It is great to hear that you are in good health, but your finances may not be as healthy as you are.

The good news is that your estate is under the current $5 million limit, so there are no estate tax issues.

The bad news is that, based on your information, you have very limited liquidity, and liquidity is the secret of financial survival.  In my opinion, you need to have $1 million in liquidity, that is cash, stocks, or a pension plan, so that you are financially secure during retirement.

Also, there is a real concern about Medicare.  Will it be around in 10 years and will it pay the lion’s share of your medical expenses in the future, and if not, will you be able to afford these medical expenses?

Another concern that you should have is that California is bankrupt.  What affect will this have on its ability to provide California residents with Medi-Cal benefits?

If you have not done so already, I would suggest that you do the following:

  1. Meet with a financial planner to develop a financial “road map”.
  2. Meet with an attorney to have the following legal documents prepared:  Power of Attorney for Health, Power of Attorney for Finances, and a Living Trust (which can help your estate avoid the high cost of Probate)

Finally, regarding your daughter.  I would suggest that at 50 years of age that she assume responsibility for herself–that she find a job, and perhaps start thinking about taking care of you and your elder care needs.

Hope this helps.

Orlando J. Antonini, CPA/PFS, CFP, QFP, RIA, NCG
Antonini CPAs LLP
San Francisco, California
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter

Today’s Q&A on ElderCareMatters.com is about decision making and Powers of Attorney

Question:  If you have the Power of Attorney for a person what sort of paperwork do you need to keep, and are you authorized to make decisions re: the care of that person in an assisted living facility or nursing home if the person is still in his/her right mind?

Answer:  Once the durable Power of Attorney for health care or finance is in place, the designated person who holds the Power of Attorney should keep as much documentation about the person as possible, including a list of their medications, physician’s report including diagnosis, allergies, etc., advanced healthcare directive, POLST (physician’s orders for life sustaining treatment), DNR (do not resuscitate) , family history, medical history, copy of the Will, bank information, mortuary information, etc. The Power of Attorney is authorized to make decisions re: the care of that person in an assisted living facility or nursing home even if the person is still in his/her right mind.

My answer to your question is based on my many years of being a long term care Administrator.  If you need more specific information about these legal documents, I would suggest you contact an Elder Care Attorney in California, which can be found on ElderCareMatters.com.

Daniela Berindei, Administrator
Elite Elder Care
El Dorado Hills, California
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter

Today’s Q&A on ElderCareMatters.com is about Medicaid-Funded Home Care

Question:  I am caring for my mother in my home in California.  It is a full time job.  Will the state provide any kind of assistance to pay for this elder care?

Answer:  The state of California offers a program called In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), which is paid for by Medicaid funds (MediCal, in California).  The program, administered by each county, does provide a certain number of home care hours, based upon an assessment by a county social worker.   

The care may be provided by a family member, who is paid by IHSS, if the recipient qualifies for MediCal and the caregiver is acceptable to IHSS.   

There is a Website with links to each of the counties’ offices: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/pg1785.htm 

If your mother does not qualify for MediCal, you can talk to a reputable employer-based home care agency about the possibility of working for that company.  The care will not be free to your mother, of course, and you would have to pass the agency’s background screening, but you would be legally employed.

Bert Cave, President
Support For Home
Sacramento, California
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter

Today’s Q&A on ElderCareMatters.com is about Daily Money Management

Question:  I’ve been hearing a lot lately about a new service called “Daily Money Management” that may help my mother.  Would you please let me know what this new elder care service is, including the benefits of using a Daily Money Manager, and what the cost of this service will be.  Thank you.

Answer:  Daily Money Managers help people handle their daily finances and, depending on their individual practice, a variety of other administrative tasks.

There are 2 different daily money management programs at Diablo Valley Foundation for The Aging: AARP Volunteer Money Management Program and Fee for Service Money Management Program.

The AARP Volunteer Money Manager Program offers money management service to help low-income older and/or disabled adults who have difficulty budgeting, paying routine bills, and keeping track of financial matters. An AARP Money Manager can also help deal with some debt problems, help obtain credit report/score. Organizations like Diablo Valley Foundation (DVFA) supervises volunteers and monitors all accounts. AARP recruits volunteers for the program and provides general guidelines. 

Within AARP Volunteer Money Management Program, there are 2 programs: Representative Payee and Bill Pay. 

When someone becomes the Representative Payee, he or she will set up a new bank account which is accessible only to the Representative Payee. A volunteer is assigned who will visit the client, work out a budget, and pay the bills. Clients must be 60 years old and older, and have a qualifying annual income limit of $35,298 for a single person and $49, 947 for the couple, assets under $35,000 (excluding home and car). AARP requires a medical verification of client’s inability to manage his/her own finances. 

A monthly fee for Representative Payee Program may be charged depending on income and other expenditures 

If someone becomes Bill Payer, all of the above applies, except the client retains control over his/her accounts, and medical verification is not required. 

A monthly fee for Bill Payer Program may be charged on case-by-case basis. 

A Fee for Service Money Manager will research all financial documents to determine the clients’ financial position and assets, sets up a Quicken or other financial software program that will track assets, expenses, and income. The Fee for Service Money Manager also writes client’s checks upon receipt of bills, reconciles all accounts monthly to statements, and sends reports to family when requested. 

FFS Money Manager also reviews all accounts to analyze net worth, transfers funds when necessary, makes deposits/withdrawals from clients’ accounts, and prepares information for annual tax preparation. 

Basic FFS Money Management fee is around $50/hr plus mileage to client’s residence.

Robert Kain, Executive Director
Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging
Walnut Creek, California  94595
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter

Today’s Featured Elder Care Expert on ElderCareMatters.com is Kathy Bate, California Aging in Place Specialist

Question:  “I am seeking information about Aging in Place.  What is it, what are the advantages of Aging in Place vs Institutional Care, and what is the difference in cost?”

Answer:  Aging in Place means that residents don’t need to move from their homes in order to accommodate their changing needs. When surveyed, over 85% of the older population say that they would prefer to stay in their homes rather than relocate to assisted living or nursing homes if possible. Major life changes in our Senior years such as moving away from friends and neighbors is very stressful and disorienting. Staying in one’s home is a lot less expensive than being institutionalized and can contribute to longer, happier lives. In California, it can cost up to $100,000 per year to live in Assisted Living. For less than that amount, modifications can be made for safety and ease allowing Seniors to stay at home for perhaps 10-20 years.Children of Seniors  can show great care and compassion for Mom and Dad by spending a little in advance to make their homes safe and accessible through minor modifications.

Is it better to spend $80,000 – $100,000 per year (15 x $100,000 = $1,500,000) at Assisted Living or spend $80,000 x 1 = $80,000 and live at home for another 15 years? 

As an Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS certification by the National Association of Home Builders), we are able to recommend and offer attractive design solutions that create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals who want to age in place…but are not experiencing health issues that require constant medical care, or have progressive or other conditions that require home modifications/equipment, or are dealing with an abrupt or traumatic health-related change. 

At that time “Adaptable” and “Accessible” Design may become necessary. Then a team of experts including patients P.T.and O.T. offer their recommendations to guide your interior designer and contractor to make more extensive modifications including special medical equipment. Depending on the progression and longevity, these major modifications may or may not be the best solution. 

I encourage all my clients who want to stay in their homes to plan ahead now when remodeling their home. Well-designed kitchens and baths, wider hallways and door openings, and open floor plans that offer “Universal Design” elements can provide multi-generational access and even increase the value and saleability of ones home. Aging in Place Design really is valuable for anyone at any age – we are all aging every day.

Kathy Bate, ASID, CID, CAPS
Designs for Independent Living
The national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter


Next Week’s Featured Elder Care Experts on ElderCareMatters.com

Next week’s Featured Elder Care Experts on ElderCareMatters.com will be the members of the California chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

All next week, the members of the California chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance (who are some of America’s top Elder Care Experts) will answer your questions about a wide range of elder care matters (from legal, financial, caregiving, housing, etc.), and their answers to your questions will appear on ElderCareMatters.com.

So if you have questions about elder care matters, send us an email at Questions@ElderCareMatters.com, and one or several of our Elder Care Experts from the California chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance will answer them on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com.  (Please include your name and email address)

Thank you for your interest in Elder Care Matters.

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
ElderCare Matters, LLC

Recent Posts

Stay in Touch with Elder Care Matters

 Facebook  Twitter  Google Plus  Linked  Blogger

eNewsletter Sign Up

ElderCare Answers

If you need answers to your elder care questions, send your questions to us at:


Answers are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners, some of America's TOP Elder Care Professionals who have years of experience in helping families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care / Senior Care Services.

All Q&A's are posted on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com

ElderCare Matters Articles

ElderCare Matters Articles are useful and up-to-date Elder Care / Senior Care articles that are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners to help you plan for and deal with your family's elder care matters.

If you help familes plan for or deal with elder care matters, then you owe it to yourself and to families across America to become a professional member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance and to be listed on the many Elder Care / Senior Care Directories that are sponsored by this National Alliance of Elder Care Professionals.


For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.