Did you know that 20 states in the U.S. have laws requiring adult children to care for their family members who need help? Well, since the 1970’s most states have ignored that this law is on the books. Many states repealed it since Medicare and Social Security ensured care for the elderly. But now, the law is being dusted off and used to collect money to pay for the care of elderly family members.
Since 1994, there have been lawsuits by nursing homes in Pennsylvania and South Dakota insisting that adult children pay up for their parents’ medical bills. One family had to pay $90,000 in unpaid bills. These laws also leave it open for adult children to sue one another if they think their siblings aren’t taking good enough care of their senior parent.
But does the reemergence of these laws lead to resentment of the senior?
Many worry that if the adult children are legally forced to care for their senior family members, the level of care will decline. The caregivers will become resentful instead of helpful. If they are legally obligated to visit their parents, the visits may not be as enjoyable for anyone.
We will just have to see what becomes of it. In China, where these elder-care laws are becoming more widespread and strongly enforced, we will be able to observe the ramifications. Perhaps we will see that the best care is what is not forced.
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