When Families Can’t Agree About Care for Elderly Parents

As elderly parents begin to rely on family for more support, the amount of conflict between adult children can increase. Dealing with a parent’s care can rekindle rivalries that have laid dormant for years and the discord can tear families apart.

Causes of Family Conflicts

Family dynamics are infinitely complex, but two underlying themes run through most sibling disputes about their parents: injustice and inheritance.

Injustice

When on sibling shoulders a disproportionate burden of dad or mom’s care, that sense of unfairness can foster resentment. Often, by virtue of distance, the siblings who live further away are “off the hook” when it comes to caring for an aging parent, while the nearest siblings are obliged to take on a caregiving role. When the caregiving sibling asks for help from other siblings, the other siblings often don’t fully appreciate, or choose to ignore, how much help their parent needs, and how much work one sibling is doing.

Inheritance

Many siblings clash over a parent’s finances. With the average American household’s net worth declining since 2007, siblings may have to divide a decided decrease in inheritance, naturally increasing the likelihood of conflict. In a perfect world, each of us is selfless and not motivated by money, but we live in a far from perfect world where money is indispensable, so it remains a problem for families.

Caregiving is stressful on its own, but when injustice and inheritance are added to a situation, they can create animosity between siblings. When family dynamics are already tense because one sibling feels unjustly overburdened with a parent’s care, money can compound the conflict.

A sibling who provides most of a parent’s care may feel entitled to a greater share of an inheritance. Or, siblings who are more distant or not involved, may believe that the caregiving sibling is spending too much money on a parent’s care. Sometimes, the children of aging parents will even resist plans for professional care in order to “protect” an inheritance.

READ MORE

Tips for Improving Communication with Your Siblings During a Family Disagreement

There are no easy answers to settle disputes between siblings who are butting heads over a parent’s care, but maintaining communication is crucial. Consider using the following tips for improving communication with your siblings during a family disagreement:

A Family Meeting

Ideally, siblings can correct issues before they become irreconcilable. The key is good communication, and true strategy to facilitate the exchange of ideas is the family meeting. At a family meeting, there should be frank and open discussion about a parent’s care needs. Each sibling’s role and obligations should be established, and future plans should be made. But if the question of where to hold the family meeting leads to a bitter argument in and of itself, the friction may have gotten past the point when a family meeting can help.

Advisors, Counsels, and Mediators

Sometimes a neutral third-party can calm feuding siblings. Family counselors can also help to bridge the difference between siblings, assuming they still talk to one another. If things have become really heated, a family mediator specializing in senior care issues may be able to break through the ill will and help build consensus and find a middle-ground.

The High Road

Ultimately, the only person we can change is ourselves. No matter how much we try to reason with a disagreeable sibling, we may not succeed. While advocating for what’s best for our parent, its’ wise to let go of anger or resentment towards a sibling who has been unhelpful or hurtful, and to strive for the undeniable peace that comes from acceptance and forgiveness; neither stifling our impulse to call out an uncooperative brother or sister, nor allowing ourselves to be consumed with anger.

May is Older Americans Month

Be Well!

Although Americans are living longer these days, more are also developing chronic illnesses. Do illness and aging always go hand-in-hand? The answer is a surprising, but resounding, NO!

It is never too late to get more active or revamp your diet. It is not a matter of training for a marathon or giving up entire food groups, either. Small things can lead to huge differences in the way you feel and the way your body works. Although you should always consult with your doctor before making changes, there are easy steps you can take toward overall wellness—regardless of your age.

About 80% of older Americans have at least one chronic health condition.

HEALTHY LIVING

  • Helps to control weight and strengthen muscles
  • Improves balance, making falls, and other injuries less likely to occur
  • Decreases risk of depression
  • Reduces risks related to brain health
  • Offers opportunities to be social and have fun

READ MORE

BE WISE, BE WELL

Start slowly. If you have not been exercising, choose something low-impact that you can do a little at a time. Walk for ten minutes in the morning and the afternoon. Sign up for a Tai Chi class, or…learn some gentle stretches.

Exercising is less of a chore when you do it with people you enjoy. Involving others will also hold you accountable. Gather a group of friends or join a class that offers what you are looking for. At The Classic, we actually offer residents a fitness class, seated Pilates, and seated yoga on a weekly basis.

Activity is important, but nutrition is equally vital. Keep an honest record of what you eat to see how you are doing. If you have a condition like diabetes, always consult your doctor before changing your diet. Nutritionists are another excellent resource, whether you have special dietary needs or not.

Wellness is a matter of body and mind. Eating healthy foods and staying active may reduce risks to your brain’s health. Do even more by learning new things and exercising your mind. Try reading, playing games, taking a class, or simply being social.

For more information, visit: oam.acl.gov/resources.html.

Is it time for residential dementia care?

Is it time for residential dementia care?

There may come a time when the person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will need more care than can be provided at home. During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep the person with dementia safe. As the disease progresses into the late-stages, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.

Making the decision to move into a residential care facility may be very difficult, but it is not always possible to continue providing the level of care needed at home. Below is a checklist you may want to consider reviewing that may help in your decision whether or not to pursue placement in a residential dementia care community.

 

READ MORE

Does your loved one:

Fall frequently (more than twice in the past year)?

Have frequent urinary tract infections (more than once or lasting more than a month in the past year)?

Have a significant weight change (lost or gained more than 10 lbs. in the past year)?

Require assistance with bathing, brushing teeth, personal hygiene and getting into his/her clothes?

Require assistance with toileting and have frequent episodes of urinary and fecal incontinence?

Show little awareness of recent experiences and events as well as his/her surroundings?

Have difficulty distinguishing familiar and unfamiliar faces?

Have major changes in sleep patterns (like sleeping during the day and restless at night)?

Have the tendency to wander and get lost and disoriented — even in their own home?

Behave in a compulsive and repetitive way, like hand wringing and tissue shredding?

If you checked at least five of the above questions, there is strong evidence that your loved one would benefit from the kind of professional 24/7 care that is provided by the Memory Care community at The Classic at Hillcrest Greens. Let us help you consider your options.