Many families experience conflict when it comes time to start making care decisions for an aging parent. This is especially true for families were the aging person has a few children. Each person thinks he or she knows the right way to handle the situation and no one wants to compromise.
Whether the aging parent is going to stay at home, move in with a family member or go to live at an assisted living facility, these types of issues can arise. In some cases, it can even get so bad that some of the siblings may sever ties.
It is unfortunate that some families face these issues. This is a time when everyone needs to work together and you need everyone on the same page. In this post, we are going to provide some advice that can help to avoid these issues and a few tips for handling the conflict that can come with making elder care decisions.
Get Ahead of the Issue
The need for siblings to start making decisions for a parent can seem like it comes up suddenly. This often leads to a situation where there is no plan and no one really knows what should be done.
It might not be a conversation any of you are looking forward to, but it is important to get ahead of the issues and make some decisions before they become unavoidable. If you are an aging person, you should try to talk to your children about your wishes long before any issues arise. If you are the child of an aging adult, you should start discussing some of these issues with your parents and your siblings.
Having a plan in place and knowing the wishes of the parent can be one of the best ways to avoid conflict when it comes time to start making care decisions for a senior.
Having conversations about senior care is a good start, but you need to do more than talk and make decisions. The plan should be documented and the parents should do things like draw up a will, designate powers of attorney and they may even want to consider advance directives.
Discuss this documentation as a family and make sure every sibling knows these documents exist and what they say. Having these documents can go a long way toward avoiding conflict when it comes time to start having conversations about the care of an aging parent.
If these matters have snuck up on you and the necessary preparations are not in place, then the best answer is to hold a family meeting. If it has gotten to this stage, chances are that one or more of the siblings have already been providing some care to the parent for some time.
When you get everyone together, it gives you all a chance to express your feelings and to work on the issues as a family. Try to list all of the issues and explain why you need to start making decisions concerning the care of a parent. Talk about potential solutions and work on ways for each sibling to participate in the process. Whether the family chooses to go with assisted living or care for the parent at home, you are all going to have to pitch in and come to an agreement.
Money can be one of the toughest issues when it comes to discussing the needs of an aging parent. Maybe one of the siblings is taking on more of the costs or maybe the aging parent has enough money to cover the cost of care, but some of the siblings think it is not being spent wisely.
When it comes to covering the cost of care, you need to be transparent about the cost of care, the parent’s existing resources and the potential for the costs to exceed the finances of the aging parent. Once you have a clear picture of what is needed, you can then start talking about the costs that may rest with different family members.
Get Outside Help
Making senior care decisions for a parent can be emotional and you might not be able to resolve every issue as a family. In this situation, you might need to talk to a geriatric care manager. These professionals will be able to take an objective look at the situation and make recommendations that are based solely on the best interests of the parent and the family.
As a final tip, you need to try to be understanding. Even if you disagree, each sibling wants the best care possible for the aging parent. Listen to each other and try to work on these issues together. If you can’t come to an agreement, an outside professional might be able to bring some resolution to the issues that are causing conflict.