Avoiding Sibling Feuds Over Elder Care

As people age, their health problems can worsen. The concern over a situation of an elderly parent not only affects the children, but also the relationships between those children.

When this occurs the children face sibling conflicts. One of the most common causes of sibling elder-care conflict is when one sibling winds up taking most of the responsibility for the care of their parent. When the responsibility of a parent falls onto the shoulders of one child, they begin to resent their siblings.

Mary Weathers, a Registered Nurse and Franchise Owner with Always Best Care Senior Services of Flagler County, Florida works with many seniors and their families in arranging care needs. During a recent meeting with a family, a client looked at Mary in disbelief, not being able to get over how her children were treating each other.

A common cause of sibling feud, when dealing with an elderly parent, is who controls the parent’s finances. A major question siblings ask one another is, “Who will control Mom or Dad’s money?” When a decision is made and a child takes the lead, it can sometimes result in financial abuse. One sibling may feel more powerful than another when being the sole controller of the parent’s funds.

End-of-life care is another point of concern for children of an elderly parent. A lot of children are faced with some big questions over end-of-life care for their parents after they have a heart attack, massive stroke, or other medical emergency. The children may battle over how much doctors should intervene to keep a parent alive after they are on a feeding tube, respirator, or other medical interment.

The siblings will spend some emotional time together, talking over individual views on how much medical intervention should be used. When they are able to agree on the care for their parent, they can be relieved and emerge with greater respect for each other. Still, many families in such situations are surprised that they rocket right back to their childhood roles in the family.

The oldest sibling may still try to boss around their little brother or sister, and the youngest child may still be seen as “the baby”, whose ideas and contributions are too immature to matter – even though he or she may be a banker in their forties at the time.

To ward off sibling conflicts, families should meet to determine what needs to be done concerning care for the parent. Educating all siblings on their parent’s condition is a good way to make sure the responsibility does not fall on one individual. Once all aspects are discussed and understood by each child, a “divide-and-conquer” approach can help.

To take the weight off of one individual, delegate various aspects of caregiving such as insurance, respite care, doctor communications, financial affairs, or home maintenance. With this method, the siblings will feud less and be able to spend more time and energy on their parent.

If you would like to learn more about how to avoid sibling feuds over eldercare, visit www.alwaysbestcare.com to find the Always Best Care Senior Services offices nearest you.

Michael Baker is a Franchise Operations Trainer at Always Best Care Senior Services. Through its network of independently owned and operated franchises, Always Best Care Senior Services provides non-medical in-home care, assisted living placement and skilled home health care for seniors across the country. Visit Always Best Care Senior Services at www.alwaysbestcare.com.

Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care.

October, 2010

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