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When Families Collide: Taking Care of Our Elder Loved Ones

Posted on Apr 04 2013 under Blog Posts

FAM_SiblingsPowellWhen your parents age and health problems set in, learning how to share the responsibility for their care can become very complicated. One of the most common causes of sibling elder-care conflicts is that one sibling winds up taking almost all the responsibility. Another cause is one sibling managing all the finances. It is surprising that many families in these situations rocket right back to their childhood roles in the family.

However, there are ways to ward off sibling conflicts; one would be having a family meeting to talk about what needs to get done. Education helps as well; if one sibling is well-informed on their parent’s illness or caregiving issues, sending information to the other siblings so that not just one person knows everything would be beneficial.

Utilizing a divide-and-conquer approach such as delegating various responsibilities to different siblings helps. For example, various aspects of caregiving such as managing insurance claims, scheduling doctor visits, handling financial affairs and coordinating other service care providers would ensure that all of the responsibility never lies on one person. And whatever you do, don’t send an overburdened caregiver sibling a postcard from your Caribbean vacation saying, “We’re having a great time! Wish you were here.”

If you would like to know more about how to handle such conflicts among siblings, please stay tuned for our upcoming April radio series on When Families Collide: Caring for our Elder Loved Ones. You can also access archived podcasts such as Transforming Difficult Decision Making in Elder Care Planning with Louise Phipps Senft, Baltimore Mediation Center.

Authored by Mia Brooms
Graduate Student Intern

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