The holidays are a traditional time for families to come together. If your folks are getting a little older and need ongoing help now (or will soon), then this is a perfect time to put on the big boy or big girl pants (whichever you wear) and have a constructive "conversation" with your siblings.
How to share in the responsibilities of caring for your aging parent or parents.
Are we having fun yet?
A recent article in The (Carlisle, PA) Sentinel’s, titled "Elder Care: Keeping family conflict to minimum," explains that even though no one can be forced to participate as a caregiver, there are some ways to approach the situation that may yield more positive results.
For starters, make sure the whole family has a solid understanding about the care needs of the individual parent or each individual parents. Why? Some seniors may tell a different story, depending on which relative they have spoken to last.
The original suggests soliciting objective information from third parties, like a physician, close friend, or a neighbor, to have more information to show the need for care.
After defining the scope of the needs, get everyone involved and let them take some ownership. Allow all of the family members to offer ideas on care needs and carefully consider each suggestion. For example, perhaps one sibling may have an idea that is not how the current primary caregiving sibling would handle a given need. On the other hand, if that idea is a sound and safe alternative — and if that sibling is willing to participate — then, by all means, give it a go.
In addition, be mindful of each family member’s relationship with the one who needs care, as well as with one another.
Say one sibling has historically been more distant to your mother than the others, asking that sibling to spend one-on-one time with mom or perform intimate personal tasks is probably not a great idea. Maybe that sibling can help with something a little less hands on, like helping with finances or grocery shopping.
One of the best ways to try to get some help from other family members is to make detailed requests for assistance. How does that work? Well, rather than asking if someone can stay with dad “once in a while,” you should ask that person to set aside a specific day and time for a regular visit. This will make the expectations clearer for everyone and reduce potential friction.
One final tip when enlisting the aid of others who are may be reticent about caregiving: start small. The original article recommends finding something that allows for a positive result without a major commitment or effort.
And remember to say thank you.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: The (Carlisle, PA) Sentinel (November 28, 2014) "Elder Care: Keeping family conflict to minimum"