Family Decisions for Parental Care

Family decisions for parental care are often difficult. But, sometimes they can be antagonistic and hostile.  Recall the adage; “one mother can raise five children but five children can’t care for one parent”. FamilyPart of this is because caring for an elderly parent is complicated. Family decisions often bring up decades old issues between siblings.  We recommend employing the professional services of a Geriatric Care Manager or Family Mediator. After all, some of the deep feelings involved also include issues of money and control. Hopefully, your parent has legally designated family member roles via Powers of Attorney and Medical Surrogates.

Norman Rockwell Didn’t Have an Ideal Family

Even when you have an “ideal family” the issues in caring for an older parent can be complex. You must consider their physical and cognitive health, logistics, and finances to name a few of the most compelling considerations.  Then you must decide, if the parent doesn’t have legal documents or unable to assert their wishes who will be responsible for what. Is personal care needed? Is it just some household help and driving? Are there medical and/or dementia related challenges? Is there a well parent who has very different wishes or needs?  You see this is more intricate than first considered. Because many families encounter members who have their own agendas or pressure siblings about financial matters. Not all intentions are pure. Not all parents loving and kind. Nor are all adult children caring or capable of putting their parent’s needs first.

Maintaining Good Family Relationships

When the family works in a mostly cohesive way the process of planning and caring for an aging parent is much easier. This is easier when the parents make their needs known and have made the proper arrangement through an Elder Law Attorney. However, even with the best of intentions and planning feelings get hurt and sometimes relationships are adversely affected. Most importantly, all should focus on what the parent wants and needs. Each family member involved may have their say but it is up to the decision maker. That is either the parent or someone else designated to do so. Sometimes, it comes to appointing a Guardian. This is very costly and often causes even greater hostility and ill will. Guardianship ought to be the last resort. If siblings and parents need help to reach an acceptable outcome, then hire a mediator or counselor. A professional won’t have agendas or the psychological baggage that family members carry into the present. If your parent needs some help with personal or household things, consider engaging a caregiver from a licensed company as a non-family alternative.

Managing Family Disagreements

Remember, you are coming together to do what is best for your parent, now.  Whether they were good parents or not. It is an opportunity to not just overcome your own biases, but to model healthy and caring behaviors for your own children. Planning is so helpful in avoiding difficulties later on. Though not foolproof, thinking ahead lets you put things in place and find out about disagreements much earlier.  Turning a blind eye on antagonisms, doesn’t make them go away. It helps them to fester and become harder to work through when it matters most.

Ideally your parents will lead the discussions and state their plans and preferences. When they are unable to that, hopefully they have legally designated surrogates. When none of this has happened, either a family member or other outside party may initiate guardianship or conservatorship. The best path when there are disagreements and even threats are to hire a professional whose priority is the parent. This includes bringing the family together as far as they can be. After all, feuding children causes heartbreak for parents. Through family mediation, each member can come out with positive and hopefully stronger family bonds.