Aging Parent’s Care

Siblings offer tips for aging parent's careAging parents in the U.S. receive most of their care from family members. Siblings may have different ideas regarding an aging parent’s care. Some suggestions are in order for siblings to get along while helping their aging parents. Assuming adult sons and daughters are well meaning, good intentioned and quite stressed, these recommendations can help keep family harmony during difficult times and making difficult decisions. Losing an aged parent is hard enough; let’s help prevent damaging a sibling relationship due to misunderstandings at times of great family strain.

Younger and aging parents have a part to play in continued family harmony too. The way they choose and set up Durable Powers of Attorney, Medical Surrogates and sharing of information in general. Chilhood psychological hurts or slights bubble up in these family situations. Not always can everything be equal and equitable. It is nice to keep things in the family but sometimes outside counsel or even guardianship trumps a disgruntled and self-serving set of siblings.  “Dear Parents” visit with an Elder Law Attorney and get your financial and end of life preferences down on paper and made legal!”  Remember, we all have our own understanding and beliefs about illness, death and dying – it is personal, not Right or Wrong.

Tips for Greater Family Harmony When Caring for Older Parents:

1, Families should meet or tele-conference together to discuss the “What ifs” – and this can start when adult children are in their 40s.  Ask your parents questions. Ask about their financial situation, where they plan to live if they can’t remain at home, each one’s medical condition and what their wishes are once one passes first.  Hear what your parents are saying, discuss it and then plan to have a discussion among the siblings at a later time. You may even consider meeting with a Geriatric Care Manager for consultation and planning.

2. Once you and your siblings have an idea of your parent’s finances, health and wishes, have a very honest and direct conversation amongst yourselves about how to split up responsibilities (play to each one’s strengths), what each person is able and willing to do regarding amount of money to pitch in for care, time to visit and how each person will help out. Again, things won’t be 100% equitable or even fair so it is good to know who can or cannot do which things.

You can do these things now, when things are status quo, or wait till a crisis to make critical decisions.

3.  Figure out and define roles – who handles medical, who handles financial, residential, availability for longer visits and the like. This helps everyone get organized and mitigates a lot of contradictions. Remember, the sibling who lives nearby or who sees your parent’s most – already a caregiver makes the decision. You can offer your opinion, best to offer your support – call routinely, visit more often.

4.  Speak with or see your parent daily or a few times a week. Get them on SKYPE if they can master it. Stay in closer contact as visual cues of “seeing” how your parent looks will give you a better idea as to how they are doing.

5. Accommodate a sibling as much as possible. You all live busy lives. This is your mother and father. Help the primary sibling caregiver with schedules, taking a shift or whatever helpful means to the primary caregiver.

6. Accept the help, you are not alone, Share information, find ways to either hire some in-home help, use a Day Care Center (Dementia) and explore Government (Veteran’s) benefits and what is available in your parent’s community. You are in this together and your calm relationship with siblings around an aging parent’s care can make a huge positive difference to your elder parents