Family disputes over elderly parents are more common when multiple children are involved. Tensions may escalate if an adult child living with parents becomes overbearing or controlling. One sibling may even be taking on the load and not receiving help. How do you protect your parents while juggling responsibilities and these tensions?
There are potentially two kinds of situations that develop. Assistance with care and the potential abuse of loved ones by a sibling. A sibling may say they have no time to help or can’t afford to help. There is validity here because primary caregivers don’t have all the time in the world and family caregivers are usually not paid.
How to Ask for Help.
Be direct with your requests to your siblings. Implied requests or subtle hints are not sufficient for siblings to realize they should step up. Sit down and create a list of realistic tasks. Divide up responsibilities according to each person’s strengths. Most importantly, find a balance between caring for your parent and maintaining your own well-being.
An outside opinion can help. Consider arranging for a geriatric care manager to assess your specific situation. Consult your parent’s primary doctor about recent deterioration and developing physical challenges. Consider a mediator. Sometimes, a neutral third party is the only way to calm the situation.
Signs of Trouble.
Sometimes one child takes over the caregiving role and leaves other family members in the dark. If your sibling is preventing you from reaching your parents, there may be abuse involved. Look for any unexplained signs or unusual conditions. Your aging parent may be the obstacle by attempting to manipulate you when the topic of outside care is discussed. Recognize this is a sign they need professional help.
The Bottom Line.
Plan before the crisis: Budget the needs. Create a living will. Do estate planning. At the end of the day, it comes down to simple communication and transparency issues. Keep everyone in the loop by having regular family meetings. Ask for help. If needed, seek out other sources of help such as the National Family Caregiver Support Program or your local Area Agency on Aging.
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