Difficult Decisions – Finding Care For Aging Parents & When Siblings Do Not Agree On How To Care For An Aging Parent
Seeing our parents start to age and their health decline is very difficult. Usually when families come to talk to us they are already at their wits end and stressed about the decisions in front of them. One of the most rewarding things we do at Circle of Friends Home Care is assist these families with options and solutions to meet their needs. It is a great feeling knowing we have helped ease the burden they walked through our doors with. Consulting with Circle of Friends Home Care early on in the process is a good idea, as we have a lot of resources, experience and suggestions we can present to you with your parents well-being our first priority. If you wait until you’re at your wits end, you’ve waited to long. When you notice certain things that concern you in regards to your parents well being and health, start gathering options and doing your research right away. This will give you an understanding of the services that are available throughout the community and then when the time comes that something needs to be done, you feel prepared, confident and glad you are not just starting your research.
Circle of Friends Home Care likes to share information and articles that give insight to the community on many of the topics and tough choices we help our clients and their families with on a daily basis. I came across this article from seniorslist.com recently and thought I’d pass it on. In the article the writer gives some tips for finding care for aging parents when you and your siblings don’t necessarily agree on the best route. I thought there were some very good ideas and points in this article. Here is the article:
Difficult Decisions Written By : Lisa Machado
When Siblings Do Not Agree On How to Care for An Aging Parent
As an owner of a senior home care agency, my heart goes out to those adult children who are in the midst of a difficult decision regarding aging parents. I am often on the receiving end of phone calls where the caller, a son or daughter of an aging parent, expresses some concern over the fact the siblings do not agree on how to solve the problem of Mom or Dad needing some assistance with activities of daily living. (These tasks are often referred to as “ADLs”, and they include bathing, dressing, preparing meals, ambulation, bathroom assistance.) One sibling may want in-home care, while another may want Mom or Dad to move to assisted living facility and yet another sibling may want Mom or Dad to sell the house and downsize.
Recently I met four siblings, each wanting a different solution. They were quite frustrated. After listening for a bit, it was clear they all had great respect for their parents. Each adult child wanted to do the “right thing.” They just disagreed on what the right thing was. I pointed out to them they had already successfully completed several steps of a very difficult decision making process:
- Each recognized they needed to do something. This, in itself, is a decision.
- Each had a true desire to help their parents.
- Each felt no entitlement to their parents property or money as a future inheritance.
- Each had spoken to their parents about their concerns – “planting the seeds” of needing to adapt to health changes.
- Each began to gather and share care solutions and were now formally meeting, as a family, to discuss.
This family is well on their way to finding an appropriate solution for their parents. The steps above plus the following may prevent unnecessary conflict among siblings:
- All the facts should be gathered. Use the Internet and local advertisements to gather information about home care, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and retirement communities. See advice of professionals but be careful of those companies who may be biased and or direct you to a solution where they receive financial compensation for a specific recommendation.
- The wishes of the parents should be considered. Regardless of the health of your parents and their mental ability there are certain desires that should be respected if they have shared these with family members and/or have written them down. Often solutions can be combined so that some, if not all of their wishes, can be met.
- Financial status of parents and extended family needs to be evaluated. Your and their financial status may narrow down your options. But be sure to investigate any hidden costs with any solution. Also, keep in mind, your parents “rainy day” money (money that the parents have saved) should be used on providing them comfort in their final years not saved for future inheritance.
- The health of the parent(s) needs to be evaluated. Current health conditions need to be considered but also certain future situations should be prepared for (ie. loss of mobility).
- The location and wishes of the siblings. Not everyone may be perfectly happy with the solution, but is it one that they can at least try? It is possible one solution may be good temporarily to see if it works? How can remote siblings help the siblings that live locally to the parent? How can the local siblings share responsibilities to prevent resentment later on.
I tell my kids that their sibling disagreements are quite normal. We are supposed to be different with different ideas and perspectives. The trick is to respect each other’s opinion and to try not to say or do things to each other that cannot be “undone.”
It’s not much different with us as adult siblings (except we may be more set in our ways!). We need to come up with solutions in a way that includes ideas, concerns and feelings of those involved and those that care. As circumstances change, so may the solutions need to change. It is an ongoing process and we will need to be flexible enough to change with it. But, hopefully it will be one that leaves us with the peace of mind that our parents were well cared for in their final years.