As elderly parents begin to rely more and more on your support, the amount of conflict between siblings can increase. Dealing with a parent’s care can result in confrontation, especially if there are unsolved conflicts from the past, and the discord can tear families apart.
Family dynamics are unique and complex, but the most common themes that run through most sibling disputes about their parent’s care: injustice and inheritance.
Unfortunately, it’s common for parents to favor one of their children at the expense of the other. Later, when they become incapacitated to take care of themselves, a disproportionate burden of the responsibility can fall on one of the children and cause a sense of unfairness. Often, by virtue of distance, the siblings who live closer automatically take on the role of caregivers for an aging parent. As it becomes harder for them to juggle their own personal responsibilities, work and this new role – they often turn for help to other siblings. However, as they don’t fully appreciate, or choose to ignore, how much help their parent needs, and how much work one sibling is doing – they can refuse to help. This is especially true when you start looking to hire a personal care assistant to live with a parent. A sibling may feel that the cost for such type of care is unreasonably high since they don’t understand just how much assistance a parent requires and how much time it takes you to provide for them.
Many siblings clash over a parent’s finances. Given the average American household’s net worth declining since 2007, siblings must divide an even smaller inheritance, naturally increasing the likelihood of conflict. In a perfect world, family matters are not motivated by money, but we live in a far from perfect world where money is indispensable, so it remains a common issue.
Bringing in an outside person to care for a parent is stressful on its own, but when injustice and inheritance are added to a situation, they can create animosity between siblings. When family relations are already strained because one sibling feels unjustly overburdened with a parent’s care, money can aggravate the conflict.
A sibling who provides most of a parent’s care may feel entitled to a greater share of the inheritance. Or, siblings who are more distant or not involved may believe that the caregiving sibling is spending too much money on personal home care. Sometimes, these siblings will even resist plans for professional care in order to “protect” an inheritance.
There are is no easy way to settle disputes between siblings who are arguing over a parent’s care, but maintaining communication is crucial. It’s also important to involve the said parent in all discussions as it’s their life, well being and health that the conversation is about. Calmly and thoroughly present your point of view. You can even support your opinion with receipts for the medical treatments, products, food and assistance. As you advocate for what’s best for our parent, it’s wise to let go of any competition with your sibling and strive to be fair and objective. When people are presented with a rational, justified opinion that’s backed by facts – they will be much more likely to cooperate and offer support in finding the best personal home care for your elderly parents.