How To Deal With A Difficult Sibling
Anyone with siblings can tell you that it is a rarity for them to all agree on something right away. Unfortunately, those issues and disagreements don’t necessarily change just because you’re an adult. When it comes to decide what is best for aging parents, there is plenty of room for disagreements. People don’t normally like to think about their parents getting older, so this important topic is often ignored until the last possible moment. In this case, disagreements and fighting can start because the family never came up with and discussed a plan ahead of time and now decisions must be made rapidly.
If one sibling lives in the same town as the parent, he or she often becomes, by default, the primary caregiver, attending to the parent’s needs as needed. However, as the needs of the parent continues to grow, it can become more or less a second job, and you have to find ways to work around things.
It can be tremendously helpful if you and your siblings have already gotten together with your parents and discussed the game plan of what you’re going to do when that time comes. Make sure your parents have already filled out papers naming a Power of Attorney for Health Care, as well as a Power of Attorney for financial affairs. It is also important that a Will be part of the process too, as well as any other personal papers that might be needed.
Please be aware that resentment on the part of the primary caregiver can also become an issue, since he or she is the one who is, in his or her mind, pulling all the weight. If this happens, you should take the time, as a family, to figure out exactly how you’re going to deal with the situation of having an aging parent, and the complications and needs that they bring with them. The primary caregiver would, ideally, explain all that he or she does for the parent and then open the floor for the siblings to come in and help in whatever way they can that best suits their situation. Oftentimes, siblings are skilled in different areas, and can help to pick up slack in the places where the primary caregiver might be weaker or overwhelmed.
If you find yourself struggling with this particular situation, you have a few options, such as a Geriatric Care Manager or family counseling. However, some family relationships have deteriorated beyond this point, and that’s where an elder care mediator may be the best option. These mediators have been trained to handle family disputes, and you can often find one by going through your local court system or the phone book. You can also try searching online for mediation services like Eldercare Mediators and the Association for Conflict Resolution.
When it comes down to it, all family members only want what is best for their aging loved ones. And if you are finding it hard to reach a compromise or agree with your siblings, you should know that there are always some options available to you to help in what can be a particularly difficult area of life.