Caregiving for a family member requires your time and effort. Different stakeholders can have different ideas on how to approach it. It is possible to deal with disagreements among family members when it comes to caregiving.
As our parents begin to age, we may have to make decisions for their medical care that we don’t want to make at all. With siblings, it can become much more difficult to make these decisions – especially when you and your siblings don’t agree on the decisions that need to be made.
There are a few areas where siblings tend to disagree the most about when it comes to caring for their aging parents. Here’s what you need to know and what you can consider for how to solve the problems you’re facing.
ISSUE: Disagreeing About Exactly How Much Care Your Parents Need.
As adults, you may not see caregiving in the same way your siblings do. Furthermore, it is very likely that you won’t always agree on exactly how much care your parents need and when it’s time to bring that care in.
This issues is especially common if you and your siblings don’t live in the same area, and one of you is spending more time with your parents than the others so you see the situation a little different.
SOLUTION: Get an Assessment
If you and your siblings cannot agree on the amount of care your parents need then it might be time to talk to an expert about your parents situation.
An outside, or third party opinion, may be better received than when you’re trying to just talk to your siblings on your own. An expert opinion, like one from a doctor or social worker, may be better able to determine your parent’s needs and everyone can go from there.
This kind of clarification can go a long way in preventing sibling and family disagreement on the kind of care someone needs.
NEXT STEPS: Research Care Options
Once the expert opinion is given, and it’s established that your parent does need some kind of help or extra care, it’s now time to research the care options available to your parent and determine what you feel comfortable with.
Depending on the recommendation, your parent may need to go into a long-term care facility. If this is the case, you’ll want to research the options in their area that are available to you.
Another option may be having someone come into their home to help them with daily needs like dressing, bathing and meal preparation. Your parent may not need full-time care, they might just need a little extra help.
After the assessment has determined there is a need for extra care for your parent, you will have a better idea of just what kind of extra care it is that is being recommended you research options based on that.
ISSUE: One Sibling Is Doing the Majority of the Work With Caring for Their Parents
Many times, the child who lives geographically closest to their parents will be the one who is doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to caring for their parents.
If your siblings don’t step up or offer to help, the person who is doing most of the caregiving can start to feel isolated and alone in terms of caring for their parents.
SOLUTION: Talk to Your Siblings About What You Need, and How They Can Help
If your siblings aren’t geographically close to you, it can be difficult for them to see how much help you need or what exactly it is that you need from them.
Sometimes one person being the main caregiver is unavoidable due to the dynamics of your family, but if it’s you and you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Perhaps you are physically caring for your parents as they age, but your siblings who live far away may be able to help in other ways – like financially or scheduling appointments that your parents need to go to.
ISSUE: Siblings Are Excluded From Important Decision Making
As with the caregiving role, many times there is one sibling that will step into the lead role as the one who is making the important decisions. During this process, they may (intentionally or unintentionally) leave other members in the dark about important decisions being made for your parent’s care.
Doing this may also limit the access the other siblings have to see and spend time with their parent – even if it wasn’t intentional.
SOLUTION: Communicate With Your Siblings and Parent as Much as Possible
If you are the one who is being kept in the dark with regards to your parent and their care, you will need to communicate with your sibling who is making all the decisions without anyone else’s input.
If your sibling isn’t willing to work with you or communicate with you, it may be time to go directly to your parent and let them know you are concerned about them and how they’re doing.
In some rare cases, your sibling may be acting as a gatekeeper and may actually be stopping you from speaking with your parent.
If this is the case, you may want to contact the authorities – especially if you suspect abuse or neglect.
If your siblings are angry with you for talking directly to your parent about your concerns, try to remind them that you’re doing it because you care about your parent and you want to make sure everyone is doing what’s best for them.
If your siblings are open to it, you may want to suggest having an in person sit down so everyone can get on the same page and discuss the next steps (if there are any) or any ongoing care your parents will need.
ISSUE: Siblings Won’t Always Help With Parent’s Care
Sometimes children don’t always have the best relationship with their parents, and in some cases certain siblings may have a better relationship than others. When this happens, it can mean children will not want to step up and care for their parents as they begin to age.
Sometimes a negative past or traumatic relationship may affect someone’s willingness to help when you ask them to.
SOLUTION: Try to Understand Where They Are Coming From
Just because you are willing to step up and help, it doesn’t mean everyone has the same point of view or will want to help in the same way.
If you notice your siblings are not helping in the same way you are, or in the way you’d like them to, take a moment to try and think about why they are acting like this or where they might be coming from.
Sometimes having a conversation, calmly and maturely, about what’s going on can really help both sides come to an understanding of where the other is coming from.
If your sibling doesn’t want to help with physically caring for your parent, maybe there are ways they are comfortable in helping with. Perhaps they can schedule appointments or send meal preparation services to your parent’s home so it makes it a little more convenient for everyone.
ISSUE: Aging Parents Are Resisting Care
So now that you’ve come to an agreement with your siblings, you may find that your parent is really resistant to the care everyone is suggesting.
This can cause a major divide in siblings, even if you previously agreed on the care plan. If your parent is adamant that the care plan you’re suggesting is something they aren’t going to do, siblings may start to disagree on it.
Some siblings won’t want to force this on your parent, while others will be certain it’s really for the best and will help make sure their parent is taken care of when you can’t be there.
As much as you want to follow your parent’s wishes, sometimes they might just not be feasible to follow through with and your parent really needs some extra care.
SOLUTION: Talk to Your Parents
Your parents may have an idea of what assisted living or extra care looks like, and it makes them feel like they are becoming a burden on others.
If you can, and you’re close to your parents, take the time to go through long-term care living facilities with them to show them what these changes could look like for them.
After seeing where they may be living or meeting their homecare workers, your parent may be a little more open to the idea of these changes.
ISSUE: Arguing About Who Is Paying for What
Even though you’re siblings, not everyone is going to be in the same place financially as their siblings are. This means that some siblings may be in a better place to help pay for the care of their parents while others may not be able to.
The cost of caring for aging parents can add up really quickly, especially if you don’t have insurance or they didn’t have a plan in place for this time of their life.
SOLUTION: Establish Financial Roles and Responsibilities Early On
It may be an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but you will need to discuss who is going to be responsible for what when it comes time to pay for your parent’s care.
You will also need to know what kind of finances your parents have in place for this, and if they have any kind of savings.
One sibling may be more willing to help financially than others, and if they’re comfortable with it then it’s important everyone is in agreement with it.
When it comes to disagreements over parental care, it can be really difficult to figure out how to resolve the issues when siblings are on opposite sides of a matter.
If you are having trouble communicating with and agreeing with your siblings, try to have a discussion with everyone being open and honest so everyone knows exactly what’s going on and when.