It is never easy to care for aging and elderly parents. It is that much harder if you and your siblings don’t have much in common or in fact do not get along with each other. You may not see eye to eye, but open confrontation helps no one, and in some way harms each member of the family – particularly your mother and father.

siblings parent careYour older parents can help by choosing a durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Surrogate for their Medical Directives. A sibling may not be happy about it but, the parent’s wishes are spelled out and made legal so there isn’t any doubt about what they wanted and who they chose to handle different things. Or perhaps they chose someone outside of the family altogether.

It may be easiest to start with finding out whether they have  a Trust or Will, a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Directives., with a representative identifies drawn up. If not, plan with them to meet with an Elder Law Attorney to have these documents created.  In families where there is distrust and dislike among the adult children, it is better for the parents to do this on their own.

There are so many factors which cause discord among Boomer brothers and sisters, usually stemming back to very early childhood. Then of course there are money issues at end of life that can turn family members on each other. It would be wonderful if siblings could put past slights behind them at least for the sake of their mother and father, and in ideal world, perhaps that would occur.

In the real world, if your parents do not put their plans onto legal documents, then it is up to one of you to ask your parents to set a time and date for the family to have a discussion about what they want for their future.  You can tell them that “their children are concerned for their wellbeing as they get older and want to discuss what their thoughts, ideas and wishes are.” Share your concern should they become ill or cannot live at home any longer, for any reason. Respect their need for independence and balance that with your concern should they need any type of assistance.

You want to engage them in the discussion and encourage them to participate in decision making.  Skip questions that they can answer YES or NO to. Try for open ended questions so that they may give more information and insight into their thinking about their future.

Each adult son and daughter will state their concern and/or viewpoint; As should your parents. Ask them questions like:

~What do you think about __?

~How do feel about__?

~What is your priority when considering__?

~ Who can best help with __?

~What do you see as a solution for__?

You are after such information as:

~Where or with who would they like to live if/when they can’t manage alone any longer?                                                                                                                                                                                                 ~ ~Do they have a plan to pay for any care they may need or should they wish to move into a Senior Residential Community.                                                                                                                                       ~ Do they have Long Term Care Insurance?  What is their End of Life Wishes?                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ~ ~Do they want to be disconnected from life support or stay on it, have a feeding tube or not?                                                                                                                                                                                           ~ How do they want their things allocated after they pass?

These are serious and even tough topics and often take more than one meeting. At the very least, you want to know what their plan is or how they envision their life if they become incapacitated, physically, cognitively or both, how will care be paid for and what their end of life wishes are. It is hoped that all of you can be civil for an hour or so together. If not, you may try having this discussion with a Family Mediator or at an Attorney’s office.