Discussing Senior Care with your Siblings

My siblings and I used to be really close but we settled in locations that were a hundred miles away from each other. When our dear mother got ill, we all came together to provide support and to prove to her that we will/can stick together throughout the tough times. I give the credit to Millie, our eldest sister, who went out of her way to organize reunions and regular conference calls. She also came up with a list of assignments along with a timeline for the family. After 7 months of fighting colon cancer, our mom passed away but I know that she was happy and proud of her children, who despite financial and proximity limits, still managed to come together to take care of her on her last few days.

So today, I’m hoping to reach out to everyone out there who is experiencing the same dilemma in taking care of their parents. I’d like to let you know that yes, it is possible that siblings can be one, that they can come together and bond despite differences in the past all for the love an aging mother.

Some families choose to avoid care professionals and decide to take care of their aging parents by themselves instead. While studies have proved that having an immediate family take good care of seniors could be a little more traumatic, it comes with a range of advantages as well. One of the biggest benefits is savings. In other cases, rotation of responsibilities can also improve relationships among siblings. However, if you decide to take care of your parents by yourselves, you have to make sure that everyone is willing to take part in the obligations. This can be quite a challenge especially if not everyone is willing to put in the same amount of effort, time, and finances.

So how did we manage to discuss senior care among our siblings?

One has to take the lead. In most cases, it is the eldest who takes the most proactive role. If you are the eldest, oblige yourself to be the person in-charge. Call your siblings for a family discussion. The common mistake that we make is that we only start setting meetings when our aging parents are already facing a health crisis. Don’t wait for your parents to be ill. Discussing senior care matters while they’re healthy is always better because it allows everyone, including your parents, to make sound decisions.

Just the siblings. It’s nice to have everyone in the family involved but during the planning stage, it’s best to start with just your siblings. Decide on what you want to do and how you want to go about your plan. When things are finalized, that’s the time that you involve everyone in the family.

Evaluate your parents’ needs. It’s always best to assess and discuss your parents’ needs with your siblings. Sometimes, we don’t have the same understanding about our parents’ condition so it’s best to schedule a meeting with a doctor so you can ask questions and get informed together.

Assign responsibilities. You have to figure out the best way to divide responsibilities among each other. In some families where siblings live in faraway locations, the one living closest to the parents is given the major responsibility for senior care while the others take major responsibilities in financial expenses. But if your siblings live in one area, it’s best to divide financial and caring obligations equally among yourselves. Some may also consider seeking professional help by hiring caregivers or by admitting their parents to senior care homes or availing of in-home care services. An online resource like InCareHomes can help you find in-care institutions in your area.

Make a communication plan. When parents are ill and require senior care, open communication among siblings is very important. It’s time to forget about sibling issues and come together for the sake of your parents. Set regular meetings with your siblings. But instead of holding table meetings, plan fun family gatherings instead to make discussions a little lighter. If the family resides in faraway states, hold conference calls regularly as well.

Keep these tips in mind and enjoy a harmonious relationship with your siblings, and provide the best care to your aging parents.

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