My Siblings and I Can’t Agree on Senior Care for Our Mom

September 15, 2017

Dear Benchmark,

My 84-year old mother has been experiencing some health struggles over the past few years. It required my siblings and me to intervene and help with many household tasks. We were able to split up the things and manage fairly well.

My mom has reached the point now, however, where she really needs more care than we can safely provide. My husband and I live closest to her and we’ve had to make many emergency trips to her house when she’s fallen. That is in addition to stopping every day to make sure she’s eating the meals I prepare for her, to help her with bathing and grooming, and checking that her medication for the day has been taken.

I think it is time for my mom to move to an assisted living community. But my siblings disagree. They think she is fine at home. Which is easy for them to say, I guess, given I am the one providing care every day. I am starting to feel very resentful of my siblings and would like to avoid an all-out family feud.

Do you have any advice?

Kind Regards,
Megan

Managing Sibling Disagreements over Senior Care

Dear Megan,

Working with family members to provide care for a senior loved one can be challenging. Busy schedules, financial disagreements, denial of a parent’s deteriorating health and unresolved childhood rivalries can all have an impact on families.

Tensions run high when families are forced to admit a parent is no longer safe on their own. And, as it sounds like you are witnessing firsthand, one sibling often bears the burden of caregiving. This can make it easier for the other adult children in the family to underestimate just how much care a parent requires.

Tips for Working with Siblings when a Parent Needs More Care

It might help if you start by asking your siblings to each take a day or two a week to assist your mother with the care you currently provide each day. While they might not live as close as you do, it is important for them to gain a more accurate picture of what type of help she needs and how much of it.

Then you might find them more understanding as you move forward in crafting a long-range plan of care.

Here are a few tips that might be helpful:

1. Needs Assessment: Begin by creating an objective list of your mother’s needs. What personal care activities (i.e. bathing, dressing, grooming) is she unable to safely manage on her own? Also include household tasks, such as grocery shopping, preparing meals and paying bills. It is also important to ask your mom if there are any tasks and chores she is doing for herself but finding to be a real struggle.

2. Family Meeting
: The next step might be to schedule a meeting with your mother and your siblings. Try to find a time when everyone can be there in person. It may be helpful if you or another sibling type up and share an agenda for the meeting ahead of time, as well as the list of items your mom routinely needs help with. Agree at the start of the meeting that you all have the same goal: to make sure your mother receives the care she needs, ensure her safety, and to live her best life.

3. Research Care Options
: One item that should be on your meeting agenda is splitting up the responsibilities of researching senior living and home care options. You can divide up the list among your siblings so everyone is helping to call and/or visit all potential options. They can also research as to what families have to say on review sites and even visit the organization’s Facebook page.

4. Communicate
: Family squabbles often worsen because of a lack of communication. This is why it is important to keep the lines of communication open. Technology has made that easier than ever to do. It might be as simple as a group email to update one another on a change you noticed in your mother that day or what her physician had to say at an appointment. Video chat services can also help. You can use Skype to discuss what each of you found out about the senior living communities you called or visited.

One final tip is to take advantage of Benchmark’s twenty years of experience by scheduling a complimentary Home Visit.

One of our dedicated associates will visit your mother’s home to discuss options for care, as well as offer suggestions that might help her stay at home longer. It could be modifications you can make to her house so it is safer or helping connect your family with local senior resources you aren’t aware of.

Best of luck to you and your mother, Megan!

 
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