It isn’t often that a child caring for aging parents doesn’t want to be responsible for the people who gave them life, but in some cases (such as financial hardship), daughters and sons of aging or ill parents may wonder about filial responsibility and if they’re supposed to be taking care of aging parents legally. Whether the reason is financial hardship or another case of hardship (e.g., spending time taking care of a special needs child), filial responsibility laws by state vary.
Read on to learn about laws about legal responsibility for elderly parents that are specific to New Jersey, and also how they compare to other states.
Legal Responsibility for Elderly Parents—Who’s Responsible?
If you’re thinking about responsibility for aging parents or wondering who is truly responsible, the laws vary by state. Unlike taking care of children, the duty of care to elderly parents is not a federal issue and is not federally mandated. Therefore, the legal responsibility for elderly parents is up to the state to decide.
Many states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and more than 25 others, have filial laws. When it comes to New Jersey, laws are strict but are “rarely enforced.”
The statutes in New Jersey do give provision to those who are experiencing financial hardship and, in all likelihood, the children of aging parents would not be in serious trouble over the legal responsibility of aging parents due to finances alone. Just as with any other case, each case would be taken individually. So, if you ask the question, “Am I responsible for my aging parent?” technically, the answer is “Yes”.
Other Issues with Legal Responsibility for Elderly Parents
You may be dealing with an elderly parent who is refusing help, which can be problematic for different reasons, not just for legality’s sake. In this instance, there is really no way to force an elderly parent to accept help if they are refusing it, and if they want to age in place in their own manner.
The best thing to do is to talk to them openly and honestly about what’s going on. If they are combative, it may be time to get their primary care physician involved or talk to a geriatric counselor or specialist who can visit with your parents. When they are a direct danger to themselves, then you should involve another party. If it is just a matter of not wanting to enter assistive care, you have done your due diligence when it comes to legal responsibility for elderly parents.
Resources and Help—Legal Responsibility for Elderly Parents
One of the best things you can do is to inquire about the medical insurance your elderly parents are using. After 65, most patients carry Medicare, but in cases of financial hardship, it is possible to carry Medicaid.
If your parents are living under your roof, you may be eligible for other benefits, such as those offered by the Department of Social Services, or for special tax deductions. Depending on your parents’ conditions, you may even qualify for respite care. The best thing to do is to contact the local DSS office in your city or county.
To find out more about legal responsibility for elderly parents, or how to help modify the home with mobility products such as stairlifts and wheelchair ramps, contact Williams Lift Co. to help you and your parents live your best life.