No matter how close your family is, disagreements can be common. As your parents get older, you might find yourself in disagreement with your family members over the best way to take care of your parents. You might also disagree about who will have to perform the tasks. In many families, one or two siblings often find themselves taking on the bulk of the responsibility, which can breed resentment and unhappiness. Maintaining a good relationship with your siblings often takes work and dedication. To solve conflicts about caregiving, try these tips.
Start holding regular family meetings early. Don’t wait until there is a crisis or until one of your siblings who is already performing the bulk of the tasks reaches a breaking point. Even if your parents are still well, it would be good to have a family meeting with all family members present so that you can find out what your parents hope for in the future. What living situation would they like? Perhaps you might need to explore modern senior living options or explore assisted living community tours. If you would like to take care of your parents independently, what roles can you and your siblings play? Make these meetings a regular fixture in your calendar. You can start planning them once every 6 months or a year, and then increase the frequency depending on the evolving situation.
Be Sure to Listen
In addition to your parents, each of your siblings and yourselves should be given a safe space to air their own concerns. Everyone is entitled to their feelings and should aim to express them with respect and understanding. Having these regular conversations with your siblings can help you all find roles as part of a team in taking care of your parents.
Situations can evolve over time. Each sibling should be prepared if they may need to contribute more time, effort, and even financial support as time goes by. Although these issues may be sensitive, it is best to discuss them with your siblings early. Keep the conversation going so that all of your siblings are up to date on all developments.
Be Sensitive to Family Dynamics
Even as adults, family dynamics can be tricky to maneuver. There might be leftover resentments between siblings from childhood, or between your siblings and parents. Parents might be reluctant to view their adult children as peers and still see them as children.
If you sense that one of your siblings might be less involved in your parents’ caretaking, understand that families have complex histories. Instead of trying to force them to contribute equally to your parents’ care, understand what is realistic, and craft a plan that allows everyone to be involved to the degree in which they are comfortable. If the situation gets too fraught, third parties such as geriatric care managers can step in to help mediate.
Share Your Appreciation
Always be sure to thank your siblings for helping out in caring for your parents. Positive reinforcement and awarding recognition when it is due are powerful tools. At the end of the day, you are all family. You all want what is best for each other and are a team.