As your parents age, you and your siblings will face issues of how to take care of your aging parents. As uncomfortable as it is to think about, your parents will likely need extra help in their golden years. Some folks will suffer from dementia, or they may become incapacitated in other ways. Forming a care plan with your siblings will help you find solutions for your parents that work for the whole family.
You and your siblings must make important decisions on issues such as power of attorney, guardianship and estate planning. Sadly, the process can be fraught with tension and conflict if the adult children are not on the same page. You may wish to keep a few helpful tips in mind when facing parental elder care to avoid common mistakes that siblings face when caring for their parents.
Tips for helping mom and dad
Here are some tips for working with your siblings that can make caring for your aging parents much easier:
- Share information
- Communicate about the tough issues
- Make a plan
- Share responsibility
- Seek outside help if needed
Know that everyone doesn't see the same concerns when it comes to your parents. One sibling may stop by more often, while another may call frequently. Mom and dad may be choosy when it comes to sharing their needs as well. When siblings communicate about their parent's health and concerns by sharing their observations, it helps to get everyone on the same page.
Communicate about the tough issues
In addition to the exchange of information, now it is time to start talking about issues like end-of-life wishes, advance directives and funeral plans. It can be hard to discuss such sensitive topics with your parents and siblings since it is a subject that many of us do not want to face. But having a sense of your parents and your sibling's expectations, needs and desires can reduce the tension for everyone further down the line.
Make a plan
Have a plan in place will help when the time comes to make quick decisions. Designating power of attorney should be part of the plan, so the family knows who will be responsible for making financial and medical decisions. If your aging parent is moving in with one of you, you should discuss the details and make this part of the plan also.
The perk of having siblings is that you can make the daunting task of elder care a team effort and reduce the strain on one person. Even if one of you has agreed to do the bulk of the caregiving, that person will probably be relieved to share some of the daily tasks with a sibling. Primary caregivers should also make room for their siblings to step in and have some input so that everyone has a chance to help.
Seek outside help if needed
Know that your family doesn't have to go it alone. If the task of caring for an aging parent is too much to handle, there are professionals available. From home health aides to independent legal counsel, there are trained individuals ready to help you with your questions and concerns about caring for your parents.