Taking care of unwell family members can be grueling on its own. You have to take care of someone else’s food, medical appointments, restroom usage and more. This applies to any caretaker, whether you’re looking after young kids, animals or even older adults.
When you’re taking care of older adults, though, you may find yourself going toe-to-toe with amoral family members who are hungry for their piece of the inheritance pie. It’s scary to discover the dark sides of people you’ve known for decades — but greed can turn even the kindest of people into vultures. It can even inspire false accusations of abuse, a phenomenon that can have far-reaching consequences.
That’s why we recommend setting up indoor cameras to set the record straight. Whether you’re a current caretaker or you plan to help out in the future, it’s best to arrange your home security system right away. Otherwise, a family member could betray you and kick your reputation into the mud … just like one of our callers on The Kim Komando Show.
People will do anything when inheritance money is on the line
Kim, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, called The Kim Komando Show with this problem. For the past four years, she’s been taking care of her aging parents without any compensation. Before she moved in to take care of them, her brother was the caretaker — or so he claimed.
“He said that I wasn’t needed,” Kim said. “But when I came for a visit, I saw pantry moths flying all through their kitchen. Mom was eating moldy food, dad had dropped down to 115 pounds, and I said, ‘Okay, I need to get there.’ So I quit my job, sold my house, arrived three months later and got busy.”
About six months after she arrived, her parents stopped paying their son’s salary. They also quit paying off his mortgage.
That’s when the trouble started
Within two weeks of having their money cut off, Kim’s brother and niece started dragging her name through the mud. They reported her to various nurses, members of her parents’ church and even county and state agencies for elder abuse.
This shocked Kim, who hadn’t received any compensation for taking care of her mother and father. (Speaking of which, if you’re caring for an aging relative, here’s our guide to tech that can help.)
Now her own brother was turning against her, all because of a decision their parents made. In a bid to clear her name, Kim collected evidence to prove her innocence. She went online, bought some recording devices and set everything up.
Don’t make this mistake: She used audio rather than video
“Most of what I’ve got is audio rather than video because the video was just too difficult for me to do,” she said.
Now she has a big problem on her hands. Kim has countless hours of recordings, though she doesn’t know where to transfer or put them. When she tries to organize her audio, she encounters two problems.
First, when she discovers a promising program, it says her .wav files aren’t compatible with their software. Second, she gets told there’s too much data on one device and there’s no way to move forward.
Here’s what I told her to do
Converting the file format will not degrade your recording. It’s just shrinking the files down to a manageable size. Sure, you’ll lose the highs and lows, but you don’t necessarily need those for recording conversations.
I also told Kim to check out Otter.ai, an audio transcription software. If you’re ever dealing with a huge, long audio file, Otter.ai can do a full transcription for you. It’s inexpensive, and its audio-to-text accuracy is great.
Here are the price and membership details:
- Basic: This is free, though you only get three transcriptions before you have to sign up.
- Pro: For $8.33/mo, you can import unlimited pre-recorded files, add custom vocabulary and use advanced search and export features.
- Business: For $20/mo, you can use all of the pro features as well as Zoom live notes and captions, team vocabulary, centralizing billing and even two-factor authentication.
Lastly, I told Kim to upload her files to a private YouTube channel for easy sharing. Once you’ve set up one of these accounts, you’re the only one who can see the content. Anyone else can only access it with a link you share. Tap or click here for step-by-step instructions on setting up a private YouTube channel.
Or you can cut out all these extra steps by using video cameras
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, cut out the middleman of audio and go straight to cameras.
Research from Arizona State University said police departments investigating burglaries find it harder to verify events as true when they’re recorded by audio alone. For example, the police department in Burien, Washington, found a 92% false alarm rate on audio-only alarms.
Bottom line: Audio recordings aren’t as credible as video recordings. Camera footage is critically important in criminal investigations. If you ever find yourself in Kim’s position, you’ll want video evidence to prove you’re not the bad guy your siblings are trying to paint you as.
Video cameras will eliminate the need to organize and transcribe recordings. All the labor Kim’s currently dealing with could have been wiped away by using security footage from the start.
More importantly, you’ll want videos that upload to the cloud
That’s because cameras that connect to the cloud will automatically take care of storage concerns. You just put the video cameras up and they record 24/7.
If you’re ever accused of elder abuse, and you know darn well you’ve been nothing but supportive, security footage can disprove your detractor’s claims. Just head to the cloud account to grab your footage ASAP. You can quickly send it to the authorities and, hopefully, clear your name.
Other resources you should know about
Caregiving can be rewarding. You’re watching over your loved ones in their homes, where they’re comfortable. It gives many people peace of mind to have family members within eyesight, instead of unfamiliar surroundings with people you don’t know.
Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. Not only is it expensive and time-consuming, but if you’re unlucky like Kim, you may find family members want to undermine you. Of course, security cameras can be a huge help, but it’s also good to leave a paper trail.
For example, you can use a free daily journal to monitor a patient’s day, from their appetite to medication and sleep pattern. This can be useful later on to prove your attentiveness. Tap or click here for free printable medical forms that keep track of your daily work.
Of course, if you’re a caregiver, you probably already have a solid organizational system set up. But if you need extra guidance — or maybe you want to improve your existing records — here’s a helpful and in-depth guide to archiving medical paperwork. (Long story short, you can use a journal, notebook, portable medication list, organizer and more.)
If that article is a bit too long for you, John Hopkins Medicine has a shorter guide to getting your medical records organized. Check it out here.
Now that you know how to fight against false accusations, you may also wonder if any other resources are available for you. Good news: You’re not alone; there are a ton of organizations that can provide support when you’re straining to care for your loved ones. Here are 40 resources for adult children caring for aging parents.