Thursday, May 20, 2021

How Sibling Rivalries Impact Caring for Mom

The Washington Post published this article, When an ailing parent needs more care, sibling conflicts can arise and add to stress.

Everyone wants what is best for Mom. But when an aging parent receives a dire diagnosis, old scores, rivalries and pecking orders from childhood can come back to haunt.

Siblings may spar over the merits of assisted living vs. in-home care. The oldest may make a critical decision without consulting the others. Another is focused on who will pick up the tab.

The article notes that typically one of the kids does the bulk of the caregiving, usually "the oldest or youngest daughter or the parent’s favorite...."  Note this quote from the article: "The most common grievance of primary caregivers: “Why is no one helping me?” ... On average, the person in this role devotes 24 hours per week to caregiving over a period of four to five years, according to the AARP-NAC report. This, while the majority hold other jobs, too." Siblings may not reconcile just because mom now needs care.  Others may live too far away to pitch in.  The experts interviewed recommend a plan, identifying which sibling might contribute money, another may be able to provide hands-on help, another can handle the administrative matters like reviewing insurance claims and paying bills.  One message that comes through clearly in the article is the importance of communication amongst the kids. Avoid the traps of arm-chair quarterbacking when the siblings who aren't providing the care decide the sibling caregiver isn't providing the care in the way they would.... The article discusses the use of mediators or social workers who work with elders.  

The biggest mistake caregivers make is not starting conversations earlier with parents about advance planning, Irving says.

Ask parents what quality of life looks like for them and where they want to live in their later years, she says. Being able to respect a parent’s wishes can circumvent sibling infighting later.

Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink


Early conversations are important, but the shelf life of what is agreed upon and communicated may not hold up, even if the key points are written down on a piece of tablet paper. Example: “Son Fred will get the cabin in the mountains because he enjoyed it so much as a boy. Daughter Susie will get the rental house we’ve had across town that supplemented our income.” Years later, Mom and Dad announce their going into a retirement community. Fred and Susie find out that the entrance fee was paid by selling the family home and the rental house. Susie is comfortable financially, in the retirement corridor from her job of many years. However, she had planned on selling off her condo and moving into the rental property once she became the owner. She also knows she’ll be the closest offspring geographically, becoming the primary errand-runner and transportation-provider for her parents. Over the years Fred had been putting in a lot of sweat equity into the cabin upkeep and improvement, going there between employment opportunities when he was short of rent money. Now Fred and Susie have to deal with parents in declining health with their memories not recalling the detail on that yellowed tablet paper. Let’s hope Fred and Susie have always gotten along. Let’s hope attorneys are trained on what advice to give early on, as the ink was drying on that yellowed tablet paper.

Posted by: Jennifer Young | May 20, 2021 6:09:17 AM

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