If you’re lucky, coming to an agreement with your siblings on the best way to care for an aging parent is easy. You may find yourselves gathered around the dining table under a united front. However, peace-shattering talks about the division of responsibilities and even the need for care at all can potentially create family disharmony for years to come. Here are some of the finer points of negotiating with your siblings while talking through this delicate topic.
A harmonious holiday celebration can suddenly become tense at the mere mention of an aging parent’s memory loss. Everyone knows where that conversation is headed. Why spoil an otherwise fun family get together by going down the path of what to do about Mom skipping her medications. Resist your sister’s attempt to get a reaction from you. If she mentions the decline in your parent’s memory during dinner preparations, politely agree (or disagree), then suggest another time to continue the discussion.
Keep the conversation focused on the topic at hand, which should simply be: “Dad needs our help now. What can we do?” It may be tempting to dredge up old resentments, such as, “Where were you when he was in the hospital last year?” Leave past issues in the past and forgive and forget. You have other priorities now.
A close sibling relationship is seldom jeopardized by parent care discussions. You agree on just about everything. Yet mention sharing the cost of a yard maintenance service for your failing parent and suddenly, there’s tension in the air – especially when their financial health is also failing. Agree to leave costs out of the discussion at first and focus on the ways your parent can best be helped. The need for yard maintenance could become a moot point if you decide to transition your parent to assisted living.
There’s a pretty good chance you chose to read this article because you are the closest in proximity to the aging parent and have become the primary caregiver. However, don’t assume your out-of-town siblings won’t help or won’t understand your views. It may be your phone number on your parent’s speed dial, but this doesn’t mean you should always be up to bat whenever their need arises. Your siblings may not readily understand the pressure and time restraints you are under but will gladly pinch hit when asked to do so. If a brother or sister is better suited than you to help your parent with medical insurance forms or researching alternative care, make the suggestion. Chances are they want to help but don’t know how.
If all parties agree it’s in your parent’s best interest to move, how will you choose the location for their next residence? There’s a lot to be said for keeping them in the same city where they have lived for years so they can enjoy visiting friends, former business associates and neighbors. Ideally, everyone will agree on the city, and your parent will adjust to their new home and make friends easily. Please remember whomever is considering moving a parent to their home town will also need time to adjust to the idea since managing a parent’s care doesn’t stop after they are relocated to an assisted living residence.
Discussing long-term care decisions for an aging parent can be an emotional ordeal, even among the closest of siblings. A little patience and understanding will go a long way toward coming to an agreement while maintaining peace in the family. If there is great difficulty in coming to an agreement, there are professional mediators who are specially trained to help family members stay focused on what’s in their parent’s best interest.
When it comes to choosing the right assisted living community for your parents, all the siblings should take the time to interview the management of different facilities. This will help everyone gain a deeper understanding of the issues your parent is facing. If your parent currently lives in Oklahoma, there are affordable assisted living facilities in the Oklahoma City area. At Village at Oakwood, we help families navigate through these difficult times and welcome your call to schedule an interview or a tour.