Remember those old family sitcoms, with children who were always obedient to their parents and cheerful to their brothers and sisters? If there were ever any difficulties, they were always neatly wrapped up and resolved at the end of the 30-minute program. Real life, as we well know, is often nothing like that picture-perfect scenario!
During times of intense stress, such as while caring for aging parents, arguments and disagreements are quite common among siblings. Past hurts and challenging family dynamics may resurface, making it difficult to remain calm, collected, and objective. Yet it’s vitally important for you and your siblings to work together to determine how best to divide care tasks and responsibilities so that all of the needs of your aging parents will be met.
Gregory French, president-elect of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, explains, “What a family member considers ‘fair’ is very much dictated from that family member’s perspective…there’s a lot of family baggage that comes out, like: ‘Mom paid for your MBA, and she didn’t do that for me.’”
These suggestions can help you and your siblings diffuse squabbles and focus on what’s most important: having an effective plan in place to take care of your senior parents.
- Find a trusted mediator. A professional, unbiased third party, such as your parents’ lawyer, a religious leader, or a counselor, can be a tremendous help in mediating discussions among siblings and ensuring your meetings are productive and on track.
- Consider financial vs. hands-on support. Sharing caregiving duties fairly should include a conversation regarding the amount of time each of you can reasonably dedicate to providing hands-on assistance for your parents. However, distance and other commitments may cause an unbalanced division of care tasks. One way to ensure that everyone has the chance to contribute to care needs equally is by offering the opportunity to share in financial costs when in-person care is difficult. For instance, a sibling who lives several states away from your parents can’t reasonably be expected to help prepare meals and clean the house; but he or she could instead contribute funds to hire a professional caregiver from a trusted source like SYNERGY HomeCare of Chicago to assist with those tasks. Be aware as well that providing too much hands-on support from friends and family can contribute to the heightened tension of a taxing situation. Developing a workable solution takes a team approach, for sure.
- Take – and share – good notes. Document everything discussed in your family meetings, and share copies of notes afterwards. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what each person’s to-dos and next steps are. It also provides a means to go back and revisit any issues that arise later, eliminating any confusion about what was agreed upon.
The compassionate care team at SYNERGY HomeCare, award-winning experts in home care in Chicago, can help ensure the best possible care for your aging parents. We’re always available to talk with you and your siblings about how best to support you. We offer a free in-home consultation, scheduled at a time that’s convenient for you.