Children fighting over what’s best for their aging parents is at least as common as parents fighting over what’s best for their children. Although everyone can agree they want the best for their parents, family conflicts over elderly parents often arise when siblings disagree on what that means.
Ideally, you should have a discussion with your parents before things get bad about the kind of care they want as they age. Powers of Attorney for both healthcare and finances should be determined, and a will should be drawn up, signed and notarized. All the children should be made aware of all these papers and their contents. Hopefully, all the children will also be able to agree on the contents of the papers and leave everything the way their parents laid it out.
But life rarely goes the way we hope it will go.
Instead, there’s generally one child who gets stuck with most of the responsibilities involved in caring for their aging parents. If all but one or two children have moved out of town, it’s usually the child who still lives closest to the parents who sees their deterioration first hand and ends up lending a hand – first with one or two things, but often the burden increases as the parents’ capabilities decline.
This can often leave the caregiver sibling with resentment of their brothers and/or sisters for whom the situation is out of sight and out of mind. They don’t see everything the caregiver is doing for their parents and so they assume everything is fine – not realizing that it’s because of all the work the caregiver is putting in that everything is running so smoothly.
When that happens, the caregiver sibling should detail everything they’re doing to care for their ailing parents and give their siblings a chance to offer their help, either financially or through other means.
But money is also a sore spot and the caregiver can sometimes find themselves accused of spending too much of the parents’ money. The siblings who aren’t there to monitor the situation are often unaware of how bad things have gotten and might become suspicious of the caregiver trying to take advantage of their parents financially.
Again, this is where the caregiver taking the time to list their responsibilities and all the work they’ve been doing can come in handy. This is especially true if the caregiver was forced to quit their job in order to take care of their parents full time, leaving them without any other form of income with which to support themselves.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always enough to resolve the situation, in which case counseling might be needed. This offers the siblings a chance to repair their relationships so they can come together for the good of their parents. Talking over their challenges and frustrations in the presence of a neutral third party can help each side see things from the other’s perspective.
If that still doesn’t work, you might want to find a professional elder care mediator to help mediate your family dispute over your elderly parents.
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