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Family Conflict 101: When Siblings Can’t Agree on Elderly Parent Care

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In a perfect world, siblings would get along with each other. While many do, others find it an ongoing challenge.

Providing care for an aging parent can bring out the best and worst among siblings. Having disagreements over the form of care or finances is unavoidable. Some problems need minor mediation, while others get in the way of providing the best care for their parent.

Typical Sibling Issues When Caring for an Elderly Parent

When an aging parent is hospitalized, common issues often arise:

How to Take Care of the Parent

Should they bring the parent to a senior-living facility? Should the aging parent live with one sibling? Adult children often think their solution is better than the suggestions of others. The expert sibling might discredit other recommendations for care. Another sibling might want nothing to do with the conversation.

Sibling Roles Reemerge

Adult siblings often fall back into the roles they had when they were children. A sibling known for being the expert might discredit advice from other siblings. The most nurturing sibling might be expected to assume all responsibility for caring for the parent. This reemergence of roles could cause resentments over the unequal distribution of responsibilities.

Childhood Arguments Return

According to a study by Oxford Academic, favoritism is often the reason for sibling tension during caregiving. Siblings might also bring back past arguments when they feel stress or pressure. For example, one might bring up how a younger sibling isn’t doing their share of the caregiving, as they always do with chores when they were children.

Fights Over Money

If one sibling is struggling over money, how could they fairly split the costs of caring for an aging parent? The sibling who takes most of the responsibility of caring for the parent might feel entitled to inherit most of the estate.

Exercising Teamwork

When caring for an elderly parent, siblings must focus on keeping their parents healthy, safe, and independent. They must also work as a team, complementing each other’s strengths without letting the stress of the situation separate them.

Here’s how siblings can work together to care for their aging parent:

  • Hold a family meeting

All family members, including the aging parent, must be present during this meeting. Discuss the conflicts and issues you’ll possibly encounter and how to handle them. Make sure everyone voices their thoughts.

Caregivers recommend that siblings should share in the responsibility of caring for their parents. If a sibling can’t contribute financially, figure out how else they can share the workload.

  • Ask for outside help

Involve a neutral party to mediate in conflicts and issues. The outside help can be a geriatric care manager or caregiver.

  • Get finances and legal papers in order

Your aging parent should discuss advance directives, trusts, and wills so everyone knows their wishes. The discussion should also discuss how the parent will afford for care when the time comes. Doing so will minimize surprises with finances and legalities.

The stress of taking care of an elderly parent can tear a family apart or bring them closer. By planning and working as a team, you’ll be able to give your aging parent healthy and safe.

Meta title: How to Resolve Sibling Disputes Over Elderly Parent Care

Meta description: Siblings often disagree on how to take care of their elderly parents, resulting in family tension. Here’s how to resolve common issues over elderly parent care.

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