Four Things Siblings Feud Over Regarding Their Parent’s Estate

Four Things Siblings Feud Over Regarding Their Parent’s Estate

Many people think sibling feuds only occur when we are young. In some cases, this is true, but for some brother and sisters this feud can continue into adulthood, tearing families apart.

Caring for an elderly parent or selling their estate once they have passed can sometime create a tenuous situation or add to an already existing one. When parents divide their assets to their children, they don’t expect such fights to occur, but it can be the case.

The following is a list of common concerns along with solutions to prevent a major feud from occurring.

1. No Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney
When a parent gets sick it can be stressful, especially if they need to be hospitalized for an extended period of time. This can become more challenging if their situation becomes critical and they are unable to voice their healthcare or financial wishes. If a parent does not have a Healthcare Directive or Power of Attorney, their loved ones are forced to make the decisions for themselves. This can cause conflict between siblings if they are unable to agree on a decision. In some circumstances, siblings have even taken each other to court to fight for their side. This can cause a rift in their relationship, costly court fees, and lost time that instead could be better spent in caring for their parent.

To avoid this conflict, parents should create Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney:

A Healthcare Directive specifies your wishes for medical treatments, and allows you to appoint someone to carry out your wishes if there is ever a time when you are no longer able to communicate or provide consent.

A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs such as your property, while you are in the hospital.

2. No Last Will or Testament
If both parents pass away without a Last Will and Testament, a family can be faced with chaos. In some jurisdictions it will be up to the children to decide who gets family heirlooms, household objects, and other family possessions. This can cause fights between siblings if they want the same thing or can’t agree on how to equally divide the items. With their parents not around to decide who gets what, siblings may become resentful to each other, which can lead to their relationship dissolving.

Parents should create a Last Will and Testament and specify who gets what. They can identify items and give them as gifts to their children. Creating a Last Will and Testament not only ensures your loved ones are looked after, but it decreases the chance of siblings fighting over material possessions.

3. Lack of Communication
In some cases, having a Last Will and Testament is not enough to stop sibling feuds from occurring. For instance, parents may decide to give one child a precious family heirloom, or more money because they were their sole caregiver. This can cause the other sibling or siblings to feel jealous and neglected. A lot of times, parents don’t discuss their will with their children as it can be uncomfortable talking about money or when they won’t be around. However, this lack of communication can cause more problems between siblings because it is too late to hear their parents’ reasoning.

Parents should communicate with their children about their will so they are aware of the contents and are able to have an open discussion. When deciding about heirlooms or possessions many people use the “sticker method.” The sticker method allows siblings to take turns in deciding what they want by placing their sticker on an item.

4. Wrong Executor
When creating a Last Will and Testament, parents will have to appoint an executor. An executor will distribute their assets of the estate in accordance with the direction of the will.

Parents sometimes appoint only one child to be their executor. Since the executor has the power to make decisions it can create some tension between siblings. Arguments can arise because they may feel jealous that their sibling is the executor or that their sibling is abusing their power and not carrying out their responsibilities.

Parents can add a clause in their will that decisions cannot be made unless there is a majority or a unanimous vote. This will allow the family member who is the executor to not abuse their power for their personal interest.

Parents can also select a third party as their executor. This can help alleviate tension between siblings as the executor is impartial and has no personal interest to the estate.

Getting Started

Dealing with an ill parent or their estate once they pass can be difficult, and having support through your siblings is important. However, sibling feuds can get in the way and cause conflicts during this time. Having your parents’ estate planning documents in order not only ensures their health care, finance and estate decisions are being taken care of, but that siblings are able to be there for each other instead of fighting.

Getting started is easier than you may think as there are many resources available. Check out the website: www.LawDepot.com, a leading publisher of do-it-yourself legal documents, which offers planning documents and a free, one-week trial which is available to help get you started.

Why More & More Seniors Are Preferring Senior Living Communities

Why More & More Seniors Are Preferring Senior Living Communities

Today’s senior communities can range from homelike to the luxury of a high-end hotel. One thing that they don’t feel like is institutional. Most seniors who have moved to an independent or assisted living community report that they definitely prefer life at their new home vs. living alone in their own home.

Here are some common reasons why:

1. An End to Stressful Driving
Driving can become more stressful as we age and our driving abilities may not be what they once were either. For these reasons, many residents prefer to take advantage of the access to transportation offered by assisted living communities. There’s no need to rely on a car any longer, although parking is typically available for residents who still drive.

2. Better Food
There are many seniors who are used to living alone and may not currently be eating right. At senior living communities, residents don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or meal preparation. Instead, they can enjoy a fine dining experience every day of the week. The food tastes good, alternative meals are almost always offered and special diets can ordinarily be accommodated. It’s common for new residents, who had been eating poorly before they moved, to experience improvements in their health and well-being just from having access to three square meals per day.

3. Feeling Like Myself Again
Living alone, we may not be able to participate in activities and games we enjoyed, that were fun and helped keep us sharp. But senior communities offer a wealth of opportunities to keep us engaged. This can include activities like favorite card games, chess, cribbage, or even Nintendo Wii and corn hole bag toss. Engaging reading and discussion groups, classes, and lectures on a myriad of topics are also available.

4. Feeling Safe
Residents can rest easy knowing that they are secured from ne’er-do-wells. Furthermore, residents enjoy the peace of mind that comes from the emergency response systems that are in each apartment, or in many cases on the resident’s person as safety pendant. This alleviates fears about falling and becoming trapped for hours or even days, a scenario that’s all too common for senior’s residing alone. Certainly, there are seniors who live alone and are just fine. While senior communities aren’t for everyone, there is without a doubt vast numbers of seniors living alone in unsafe or unhealthy situations who would benefit immensely from life in a senior community.

5. Improved Family Relationships
Older folks frequently become dependent on their grown children, or other close family members, for help of all kinds. Unnatural role reversals can strain relationships and foster unhealthy feelings of resentment, both by parents and their children. Younger family members are liberated from the role of full-time caregivers and are able to assure that time with their older loved one is high-quality and meaningful. Older residents are glad to return to the role of family matriarch or patriarch and often pleased that their grown children no longer have to “parent the parent.”

6. New Friends
Older adults who live alone often become isolated, which is unhealthy at any age. At senior communities, individuals can make new friends and share meals with each other. On the other hand, persons who are more introverted appreciate that their privacy is respected, but are still glad to have folks around.

7. No Stress Home Maintenance or Yard Work
Keeping up a home is hard, especially for those persons who have developed physical ailments. Mowing the lawn, shoveling/blowing snow, pulling weeds, vacuuming — these become things of the past. If you are a green thumb, many communities have gardens or raised planters that allows you to “adopt” a garden.

8. Vanquishing Boredom
Residents need never be bored at a senior living community. There’s something for everyone. All kinds of activities and entertainment are offered, both on-site and in the local community. Entertainment can range from visiting musicians and performers, to day trips that might include local landmarks, forays into nature, or just an outing to a local park.

Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which affect memory and other cognitive abilities, can create anger, anxiety, confusion and fear for a person living with the disease. It doesn’t help that explaining and reasoning with person dementia probably won’t ease their frustration.

An approach called “redirection” however, frequently helps. Redirection is a technique that is used to shift a distressed person’s attention away from the situation that is causing anger, anxiety, fear, or dangerous and unsafe behavior to a more pleasant emotion or situation.

How to Redirect a Parent or Senior Loved One

It’s happening again. Even though you’ve explained many times to mom, who has dementia, that she can’t call her sister Marie, who passed away five years ago, mom insists on calling her right now.

To make matters worse, she’s become agitated, even paranoid. “What have you done with Marie? Why won’t you let me call her?” mom asks. At this point, you are at a total loss as to what to do to calm her down.

When a person has dementia, he or she is unable to process information like they used to. That’s because dementia’s impairments aren’t restricted to memory loss. Those diseases also compromise the “executive functioning” capabilities of insight, judgment and reasoning. As a result, your loved one with dementia can be incapable of telling the difference between a hallucination and reality. Trying to explain why that person’s perceived reality isn’t true is pointless. Such an explanation can escalate already strong emotions.

Steps to Consider When Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

It is possible to find ways to still stay connected to your loved one with dementia so they don’t feel that you’re trying to bully or push — which can easily backfire. Instead, try to understand that your loved one’s anxiety, fear, or other emotion probably stems from frustration or feeling out of control. For example, a person with dementia may ask the same question again and again because they have trouble processing the answer.

Fortunately, redirection can sometimes alleviate frustration for both the person with dementia and their family caregiver.

The following tips provide advice on how to redirect a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia:
 

  1. Assess the environment.
  2. Is the room too hot or cold, but your loved one can’t find the words to express that? Is the space calm and comforting or noisy? Sometimes, it’s the environment itself that needs redirection.

  3. Don’t try to explain or reason.
  4. If mom keeps pushing furniture against a door and insists that someone is trying to break in, explaining that no one is attempting to get in probably won’t ease her fear. Instead, try responding to the emotions behind the actions. You don’t have to say, “I believe this is happening,” but you can say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” You might also say, “Mom, I really want you to feel safe. How can I help you feel safe?” In this scenario, you realize what is causing your loved one’s agitation and redirect her feelings from a place of insecurity to one of security because she feels like you finally believe her and are on her side.

  5. Go outside.
  6. Try to step outside for some fresh air and a change of environment if you can. Light and sunshine are healthy and help redirect the brain.

  7. Keep it simple.
  8. Try to keep conversations simple and direct. For example, if the person resists bathing, instead of saying, “I need you to come to the bathroom so you can take a bath and shave and I can wash your hair,” a simple “Dad, we’re going to the bathroom” is easier to comprehend. Asking for one thing at a time helps keep things simple.

  9. Use bridge phrases to put the focus back on the person.
  10. If Mom won’t eat and says she’s not hungry, you don’t have to push. Instead, try a ‘bridge phrase’ that moves the conversation to a different place. For example, you can tell Mom how much you always loved her fried chicken and ask her if she remembers how the house used to smell while it cooked or how she prepared the meal. Then a little later, maybe return with, “hey, how about we both have a bite of this sandwich?”

  11. Use touch to calm and focus.
  12. Not everyone with dementia feels comforted by touch. However, if the person is okay with it, touching that person’s arm or shoulder or gently hold their hand can be comforting and grounding. With redirection, keep in mind that one technique may work fine one time but not the next, so it’s a good idea to have several options on hand. The whole idea of redirection is that you want the person to feel cared about and listened to and make sure they’re in a safe situation.

     
    If you or your loved one are considering a memory care facility, learn more about Eau Claire memory care here. Our professional memory care team can answer your questions and help you navigate your situation.

Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

The prospect of downsizing can be a difficult one for seniors facing the move to an assisted living facility. A lifetime of memories associated with possessions can be daunting to wade through for families and caregivers.

But, rest assured, there are ways to help ease the transition for your senior loved one.

Downsizing is an inevitable part of moving to a new residence: taking old clothes to Goodwill, throwing away that leaf blower that hasn’t worked in five years, and getting rid of all the things you’ve accumulated that your family no longer needs.

But, downsizing can be particularly wrenching for the elderly, who may find it overwhelming to think about letting go of the items they’ve gathered over a lifetime. If a senior loved one is faced with a move to assisted living where there may be less storage space, that clutter in the closet may turn into a stubborn roadblock — or even a justification to resist moving.

This can mean a tough conversation for family caregivers, who are usually the ones faced with confronting their parents about downsizing. Fortunately, there are strategies you can follow to make the process easier, even if a senior loved one has a more serious hoarding issue.

Does Your Senior Loved One Need to Downsize?

Getting rid of longtime possessions we’ve grown attached to isn’t easy for anyone, but for our elderly loved ones, it can feel like giving up cherished memories, especially if they are faced with leaving a long-term home on top of it all.

This isn’t just a matter of the occasional senior citizen not wanting to give up the mementos. In fact, it’s quite common. A recent study looked at survey data from 22,000 participants and found that about 30% of people over age 70 had done nothing to give away belongings over the past 12 months. Yet…more than half of the respondents in all age categories believed they had too many belongings. As an example, 56% of those aged 50 to 59 and 62% of those 70 to 79 reported having more things than they needed.

For these folks the problem isn’t denial, but rather, the extraordinary difficulty associated with giving up items that are so closely linked to their identities, their past, and their memories.

When Clutter Gets Out of Control

Sometimes it isn’t so easy to convince your loved one that they have too much stuff. If their collection of belongings is actually impairing their everyday functioning and threatening their health or that of others, they may be suffering from an elderly hoarding disorder.

It’s important to note that if you know of someone who is having trouble letting go of personal possessions and is distressed at the thought of discarding them, that alone may not constitute elderly hoarding behavior. However, if a person’s clutter is so extreme that their living space is unusable, unsanitary, or hazardous, or if they are exhibiting symptoms like self-neglect and social withdrawal, it may be time to consider whether they have Diogenes Syndrome (elderly hoarding disorder) and whether they should move into assisted living.

Tips for Talking to Your Parents about Downsizing

Whether you suspect your loved one has senior hoarding issues, or they simply have too much stuff for a small assisted living apartment, broaching the topic of downsizing can be a scary thought. You might be wondering, how can I ask mom and dad to give up so many memories they obviously cherish, and risk upsetting them?

Enlisting trusted friends and family to help your loved one clear their clutter can be an enormous help. Having others around to share memories with can make the process less painful, for one thing. It can also make it less overwhelming and time-consuming as seniors can easily be daunted by the size of the task, or feel physically incapable. Sometimes, though, the situation is so dire that professional help is warranted. Senior move managers can help the elderly downsize their possessions and are experts at helping with the transition into senior living.

The end result can be a hassle-free transition and a much lighter load.

Communicating With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimers

Communicating With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimers

How Do I Talk to My Loved One Who Has Alzheimer’s?

It’s indescribably painful to witness the deterioration of a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. As the disease progresses, we see minor forgetfulness morph into severe impairment, eventually causing communication to become a problem. In some situations, a memory care facility may be a needed option for individuals.

Knowing how to communicate and connect with our loved ones who suffer from forms of cognitive impairment is important as the disease progresses.

How to Communicate With Someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in 10 Americans have a family member with Alzheimer’s, and one in three know someone with the disease. Since people are living longer, more and more Americans are suffering from memory disorders — which means every family is likely to be affected at some point.

Learning techniques about how to act and what to say to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can help families emotionally connect with their loved ones. As with any brain disorder, there are special approaches involved with communication.

You can’t be judgmental or critical to aging loved ones who suffer from memory impairment or dementia, and asking detailed questions is probably not the best idea. When all else fails, ask open-ended questions and keep the conversation going smoothly. Help your loved one feel comfortable as the human connection is the most powerful.

Listed below are some strategies to help you and your aging loved ones maintain a positive relationship, despite Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Ways to Act Around Someone With Alzheimer’s or Dementia

If you want to meaningfully connect with your loved one who suffers from memory impairment, you have to set the mood.

Here are some tips:

1) Avoid distractions. Create a comfortable ambiance that doesn’t have a lot of stimuli so that your loved one can focus all their mental energy on the conversation.

2) Be a good listener. Not your head and interact with your loved one’s conversation. If you don’t understand something, politely ask open-ended questions.

3) Don’t criticize. Be compassionate and do not try to correct your loved one if they are inaccurate. Feel free to go along with their delusions and misstatements to see where the conversation takes you.

4) Use a calm voice and warm tone. Don’t be condescending and don’t use heightened emotion. Speak clearly using a calm manner.

5) Use names. Avoid pronouns and refer to people by their names. Be sure to greet your loved one with their name.

6) Use nonverbal cues. Keep eye contact and smile around your loved one. Maintaining an inviting demeanor will help your loved one stay at ease, and comfortable body language can help your loved one recognize that you are someone familiar, even if they don’t recognize or remember exactly who you are.

What to Say to Say to Someone With Alzheimer’s

People who suffer from memory impairment have trouble expressing emotions and thoughts, and also have trouble understanding others. Even if you think your loved one has become a shell of a person and is no longer there — they are. You just have to figure out a different way to reach them and know what to say to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides several “do’s” and “don’ts” for effective communications:

DO

  • Accept the blame when something’s wrong (even if it’s a fantasy)
  • Agree with them or distract them to a different subject or activity
  • Allow plenty of time for comprehension…then triple it
  • Avoid insistence — try again later
  • Be cheerful, patient, and reassuring
  • Eliminate “but” from your vocabulary, substitute “nevertheless”
  • Give short, one sentence explanations
  • Go with the flow
  • Have patience
  • Leave the room, if necessary, to avoid confrontations
  • Practice 100% forgiveness
  • Repeat instructions of sentences exactly the same way
  • Respond to the feelings rather than the words
  • Speak clearly and naturally
  • Talk about one thing at a time

DON’T

  • Don’t argue
  • Don’t confront
  • Don’t question about recent memory
  • Don’t try to reason
  • Don’t remind them that they forget
  • Don’t take it personally

It’s also important to recognize what you are up against. Memory disorders continue to get worse with time, so your loved one will not improve; and you have to accept that. You need to have patience and make the conversation as pleasant as possible.

Remember to Be Patient

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The human brain is very complex and your loved one will have both bad days and good days. Learning to be patient with these behavioral variances is key. Knowing how to act around someone with Alzheimer’s or how to help someone with Alzheimer’s will only go so far.

Be kind and remember your loved one for their good times. Above all else, be loving and respectful, as they need you now more than ever.

To learn more about how to communicate effectively with a loved one with dementia, consider contacting the Eau Claire Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) or visit their website at: Eau Claire County Dementia Coalition. The ADRC has a wealth of information about coping with dementia. They also offer dementia-related support groups that you can attend. The Classic actually hosts one of the groups on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. Click here for information about memory care in Eau Claire.

When Should You Move Your Parent to Memory Care?

When Should You Move Your Parent to Memory Care?

There could come a time when your parent with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia will need more memory care than can be provided at home. During the middle and late stages of dementia, sometimes 24-hour supervision is required to ensure the person’s safety.  As dementia progresses further, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.

Making the decision to move a parent into a specialized memory care environment may be difficult, as it is tough to suddenly be faced with a decision that makes it feel like YOU are now in a parental role.  But it is important to consider whether or not it is possible to continue to provide the level of memory care needed in the person’s home.

The questions below, from the Alzheimer’s Association website, are ones to consider when determining if a move to residential memory care is a good option:
Is my mom or dad becoming unsafe in her or his current home? Is he/she getting lost in the neighborhood, or in the home itself?  Are you worried about the person wandering at night? Is crossing the street safely an issue?

Is the health of my parent, my own health, or the health of my other parent at risk?  This is a major consideration.  Caregiver stress can be deadly.  There are caregivers who actually die before their loved ones, because they are determined to do it all and once promised the person “they would never have to move to a home.”  Please consider that this is a situation neither party was thinking about when that promise was made.  You want to be able to be the daughter, or the son, or you want your other parent to be the wife, or the husband to the person with dementia. Being in the caregiver role can easily drain all energy from your rightful role.

Are my parent’s care needs beyond my physical abilities or the abilities of my other parent?  A doctor’s opinion might come in handy here, so that you, the son or daughter, have some professional backup for your own assessment of the situation.

Am I or is my other parent becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?Staff members who work with persons with dementia are trained to not take things personally, to answer repeated questions patiently, and to empathize even in the midst of challenging situation. It is typically very difficult, especially at first, for family members to adjust to the changes in their loved one.

Am I neglecting work or family responsibilities in the process of caring for my mom or dad?  If you are not sure who you can talk to about any of the issues listed here, this, do not hesitate to call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour help line as you wrestle with this or any dementia-related issue:  1-800-272-3900.

Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit my parent? Sometimes the person will flourish in an environment where there is more structure and interaction with others.  A lack of structure and routine is wearing and stressful for the person with dementia. Sometimes people adjust surprisingly quickly to a new environment, because they have less time on their own in which to become confused about what should happen next.  Others take longer to get used to a new routine.  Most people seem to settle in within 3-4 weeks.

Even if you plan ahead for a move, making this transition to a memory care facility can be incredibly stressful.  You may have an abundance of conflicting emotions.  You may feel relieved and guilty at the same time. These feelings are common. Regardless of where you choose to have the person cared for, it’s good to keep your focus on making sure your parent’s needs are well met.
Please see http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp for additional information.

Things You Should Do and Things You Shouldn’t Do When Moving Your Loved One to Memory Care

Things You Should Do and Things You Shouldn’t Do When Moving Your Loved One to Memory Care

There are many different ways that families handle communicating with their loved one about a move to memory care. The most successful plan will be designed to meet your loved one’s needs. Some family members don’t tell the person they are going to move, knowing this could create undue anxiety. Other families are completely honest with their loved one about the need for “more care” and they have their loved one actively participate in their move. However you decide to handle the communication, make sure that all family members are on the same page and keep in mind the following guidelines:

DON’T keep reminding your loved one they are moving if it makes them anxious. You might try telling them once, in a matter of fact manner, to see how they process things. If it stresses them out to talk about a move, don’t keep bringing it up.

DO reassure the person that he/she will be getting more help. Because of their dementia, they may bring up the same concerns or fears over and over. Let the person voice their concerns, and be understanding in your replies. For example, “I can see why you’re worried about that. We’ll figure it out.”

DON’T pull your loved one into the details of the planning and packing process. Don’t ask them to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. With memory loss, decision making and any process with multiple steps will present challenges. If you don’t already know which objects or knick-knacks are most important to your loved one, spend time observing what things around their home they use and enjoy on a regular basis.

DO consider working with a move manager. A great example comes from a family who had one daughter take mom out for a morning of shopping followed by lunch, while the other daughter was assisting the move manager. The move manager set up the new apartment to look almost identical to the room in the old house where mom spent most of her time. When they brought mom into her new apartment, she knew something was different, but she felt very much at home right away.

DON’T overpack. Memory care apartments are small for a reason — large spaces with lots of “stuff” can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for people with memory loss. A smaller space with a manageable amount of items in it eases the mind. Again, pay attention to what your loved one actually uses throughout the day and bring just what he or she needs. If your loved one misses something, you can always bring it later. A person with dementia often picks something up, puts it down, and then forgets where it is. Save yourself the heartache of a missing wallet or priceless family heirloom by not bringing these types of items to the new memory care apartment.

DON’T get started too late in the day. Try to get the move done so that your loved one is settled in their new apartment by 2 or 3 p.m. at the latest. As the day progresses, we all get tired, but a person with dementia will not cope as well as the rest of us. Enlist more moving help if you need the extra hands to be finished by 2 p.m. — it will make the transition smoother.

DO remember that people usually adjust quite well to their new environment. Remember, though, that it could take around 2-4 weeks to adjust to their new community. Be reassured in knowing the staff in the memory care facility are there to help your loved one settle into a comfortable routine. Because the new environment (not only the apartment but also the programming and the structure of the day) is designed to fit the needs of a person with dementia care, you will start to notice your family member be more at ease than they were before the move. When your focus returns to your relationship with your loved one, rather than the details of day to day caregiving, you will also be more content, knowing you have made the right decision.

Siblings: Stop Fighting over Senior Care for Your Parents

Siblings: Stop Fighting over Senior Care for Your Parents

Does this family scenario sound familiar? An ever-helpful, younger sibling lives a short distance from her elderly parents and for quite a while now has been spending an increasing amount of time as caregiver for her mother and father. An older sister lives several states away and is for the most part a “non-participant” in her parents care — both physically and psychologically. The older sister often has feelings of guilt for being so removed from her family, but at the same time, neither her parents or her sister typically ask for any help. In the rare instances when the younger sister reaches out, it doesn’t take long for them to disagree on how a certain situation should be handled.

It can be difficult for families who have never gotten along to make decisions together, especially when there are multiple siblings with varying beliefs, caregiving styles, and personalities. A recent article in Forbes magazine, states that 61% of sibling caregivers feel they don’t get the support they need from their siblings. Watching our parents decline can make us more emotional, irrational, and volatile. And…there’s something else: it can often remind us that we’re next in line.

“When siblings squabble over who will care for mom or dad, or refuse to help one another with caregiving tasks, the problem often isn’t about the caregiving itself, but rather conflicts and power struggles that may have existed since childhood.”

What Siblings Disagree Over

Why the sibling strife? You name it!

Caregiving Arrangements
Live-in, live out, or family help? Should technology be utilized to remind parents to take their medications and alert you if they don’t? Who will dispense medications, interview caregivers, or oversee the whole process?

Disparities and Inequities

Is each sibling pulling his or her own weight (money, tasks, and/or time)? Is the hometown child, or daughter saddled with more responsibility and resentful of out-of-town siblings?

Family Possessions
Who gets what when a parent downsizes or moves or after a death?

Finances and Money
How should the money be spent? Will there be expenses over caregiving and who handles finances if mom or dad is no longer oversee things?

Independence and Safety
Who will think about asking the parent to give up those car keys if it becomes necessary? Who will ensure fall prevention, especially if the parent is living alone?

Living Arrangements
Should dad stay in the family home or is too isolating, unrealistic, or unsafe? If not, where should he go?

Medical Decisions
Who makes sensitive decisions when there are differences of opinion about the end of life or treatment?

Ways to Take Action to Avoid Conflict

To head off conflict down the road, it’s important, while the initial dialogue can be difficult, for siblings to try to have open conversation early on about their roles, even though their parents are still younger and/or healthier.

It’s quite typical for one sibling to handle emotional and lifestyle issues, while the other can be in charge of medical decisions. Financial decisions can go either way. Sometimes one sibling takes the lead for those concerns, while with other families, it’s a joint decision.

Use the following strategies if you’re trying to stop an ongoing struggle with siblings over senior care:

Be empathetic. Be understanding of your siblings’ circumstances, of your parents’, and of your own. It’s a stressful time for everyone.

Divvy up responsibilities according to each person’s strengths. Let them choose what they want to tackle, e.g. communicating with doctors, paying bills online, or researching housing options.

Don’t expect a miracle! If your sister was always selfish, she may not change. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to get her to pitch in.

Hold your tongue. How important is it if you and your brother don’t do everything the same way? Unless it’s a safety issue, button up!

Just ask! Have your parents participate in decision-making, or at least let them weigh in, if it’s realistic.

Keep everyone in the loop. There are now websites that let family members collect all the information in one place (from caregiving and medical to tasks that need to get done) and log in any time. Convene regular family conferences, preferably in person, or otherwise via conference calls, Facetime® or Skype®.

Spell out your needs. Maybe a sibling should know what you need, but maybe they have no clue. Perhaps they think you don’t want help.

Time Out! If an issue becomes contentious, take a break, calm yourself, then address the topic at another time. Apologize if it’s warranted.

Vent appropriately. Visit a caregiving forum or website, learn how others have handled tough situations. Call a friend. See a therapist or talk to clergy. Just know that there are professionals available to help families untangle issues relating to aging parents and help all parties make decisions.

How Does My Role as a Caregiver Change When My Loved One Moves to Assisted Living?

How Does My Role as a Caregiver Change  When My Loved One Moves to Assisted Living?

As an adult child who has possibly been involved in the primary care of a senior parent, your loved one’s move to an assisted living community will undoubtedly create a lifestyle change that not only affects your mother or father but you as well. You must now entrust the majority of their care to assisted living staff. The primary question most people placed in this scenario ask is, “will the facility provide the same level of care and love to my parent?”

Included in this article are tips on how you can avoid distance and distrust and take a more cooperative approach with your senior loved one’s assisted living staff.

Your assisted living staff will be better able to do their jobs if you and your parent bring them into the fold and treat them as active and welcome participants in your senior loved one’s care moving forward.

There are a number of reasons to take this approach:

In can increase your trust in the care your loved one is receiving.
It’s natural for family members to worry about the quality of care a senior will receive in a new assisted living community. The best way to put your fears to rest is to get to know the staff and regularly ask for updates.

It’s not uncommon for adult children to be worried that a move to assisted living can potentially have a negative impact on their loved one. More often than not, however, the exact opposite occurs. With days filled with various activities, a close watch on his/her medications, a proper and monitored diet, an assisted living environment typically allows individuals to thrive.

When you know your loved one is in good hands, you can let go of some of the stress and worry you feel about their care.

The assisted living staff will be a big part of you and your senior loved one’s lives.
For as long as your parent or senior loved one lives in assisted living, staff will become the main people in charge of helping them with activities of daily living (ADLs) like getting dressed and taking their medications.

They’ll also be some of the main social contacts your loved one has in between your visits and will become the familiar faces you see every time you’re there.

Your lives will be better if you stay on good terms with your loved one’s assisted living staff and make an effort to get to know them.

You have the knowledge they can use to provide more personalized care.
While you need assisted living staff to help with your senior loved one’s care, they also need you in order to do their jobs as well as possible. Taking the time to know one’s interest and life story has always been a key to helping carry out individualized care plans. Having open and frequent communications with family members and friends allows staff to get an inside look into the lives of our residents.

Your loved one’s care needs, personality, and preferences are all unique. The more you interact and openly communicate with assisted living staff, the better they’ll understand the person they’re taking care of and how to best treat them.

You need regular updates on anything that changes — and so do they.
As your parent or senior loved one ages, their needs inevitably change. You want to know sooner rather than later when that happens and you want to make sure that assisted living staff knows as well.

The best way for everyone involved in your loved one’s care to stay aware and on top of all changes is by keeping the lines of communication open. When you notice something different about their behavior when they’re home for a visit, make sure you let the staff know so they can make any needed changes to the care routine.

Also, regularly ask assisted living staff about any changes they notice so you can advise on how best to handle them and know to bring them up with the doctor if needed.

Ways to Create a Successful Senior Care Team

Knowing you should treat assisted living staff as part of the senior care team isn’t the same as actively doing so.

To successfully treat your loved one’s care as a team effort you can all contribute to, here are a few important tips:

Be respectful of them.
Working in an assisted living community is hard work. Be careful not to take out any of the difficult feelings you may have about your loved one’s condition on the staff. Communicate respectfully and always remember that you’re talking to people with an active interest in making sure your loved one stays as comfortable and healthy as possible.

Initiate regular contact.
Whether it’s through talking to them during frequent visits or making regular emails or phone calls, make sure you proactively communicate with assisted living staff. It gives you the chance to get to know them and shows them you’re interested in constant updates on your love one’s cares. Families should never be surprised about changes in their loved one’s condition. Regular communication keeps everyone in the loop and ensures you’re all on the same page about what your loved one needs and how to provide it.

Work together for better for better senior care.
As you already know, taking care of an aging senior is a lot of hard work, and it’s too often thankless work. You can make the lives of your loved one’s assisted care team easier and improve the quality of care your family member receives at the same time by actively embracing the people working with your loved one. Treat them like a part of the team and get to know them as human beings.

How to Handle Caregiver Guilt after Moving Parents into Senior Living

How to Handle Caregiver Guilt after Moving Parents into Senior Living

Family caregivers face a complicated mix of emotions while caring for parents and seniors loved ones —and the least useful of them all is guilt. In addition to taking away energy and time that you can’t afford, guilt can also keep you from making the best decision for your parents. In many instances, that decision involves handing a loved one’s care over to a skilled professional, rather than continuing to carry the full burden yourself.

For many caregivers, one of the biggest hurdles to making that decision is giving yourself permission to feel okay about it. Below is a list of reasons why moving parents into senior living may be best:

Assisted and senior living staff have a specific set of skills needed to care for your loved one.
Unless you’re a gerontologist or nurse by profession, you are not specifically trained in how best to care for an aging senior. The people who work in senior living know more about how to handle the various types of help seniors need than many loved ones do. While there are always ways you’ll know your parents better than a staff member, there are still skills they’re able to bring to the table that you don’t have.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, the care you provide will suffer.
Concern for your health isn’t just about you. If you’re sick or stressed out all the time, you’re not able to provide your loved ones with the level of care they need. To be there for your parents in the way they need, you need your health — both mental and physical.

Senior living communities can spread the care around so no one person is overwhelmed.
If you’ve been doing all the work of caregiving on your own, then by now you know well how unrealistic it is for one person to shoulder the entire burden. Balancing the responsibilities of your own life and being a full-time caregiver for your parents at the same time can be ultra-stressful. Senior living communities have a number of staff who work different shifts, so the work is spread around. That doesn’t mean they don’t still work very hard, but they’re able to keep the workload a little more manageable than one person trying to do everything.

Senior living communities provide more access to medical professionals.
Unless you’re a medical professional yourself, you won’t be as good at recognizing changes in your parents’ health or know how to address them as a licensed doctor or nurse will. Senior living communities typically have nurses on staff — meaning your parents will have regular access to someone with extensive medical knowledge.

Senior living communities provide resources and social activities one person can’t.
As seniors age, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay social and the lack of social opportunities can contribute to depression. While having you around is better than being isolated, one person can’t be someone’s whole social world. One of the big benefits that senior living communities provide is easy access to a larger social circle. Your parents can make new friends and easily see them every day, without the difficulty of traveling to meet them. Senior living communities also schedule regular activities, such as fitness classes, men’s and women’s book clubs, and cooking classes — all things that keep your parents active, without putting any more work on your plate.

Trying to do too much is bad for your health.
This is a very important point to acknowledge. Caregiving can take a real toll on your health. Trying to do too much work without enough rest can weaken your immune system and cause you to start facing more serious health issues. If caring for your parents requires helping move them in ways you find physically taxing, that can cause you injuries as well. What happens to you and your parents if you break a bone or pull a muscle trying to take care of them? You both suffer and they’re likely to end up in the care of professional anyway.

Ways to Minimize Your Feelings of Guilt

You may still struggle with guilt or feeling like a failure if you hand care over to someone else. It is a perfectly normal way to feel. There are, however, a few steps that you can take to help you work through those feelings:

Find the best possible senior living community.
Spend time researching senior living communities in your area so you get a feel for your options. Visit the ones that look like the best fit for your parents and spend time talking to the people that live and work there. If you know the home your parents move into has folks they’ll get along, as well as staff who are well-qualified to care for them, then you can move them there with more confidence you’re making the right decision.

Go to therapy.
If you still have lingering guilt that’s negatively affecting your life, consider finding a good therapist. Having someone you can talk to about your feelings will help you work through them. Trained therapists are also equipped with actionable strategies for dealing with guilt or other negative feelings.

Help them make their new residence their own.
An apartment in a senior living community will inevitably feel different than a home, but you can still find ways to make it more comfortable for your parents. Help them pick out decorations and family photographs or mementos that will make the space more theirs. Make it a project you do together. It gives you a way to spend time together during the transition and will have a lasting influence on their time in a senior living community.

Visit often.
Moving parents to senior living doesn’t mean you’ll stop seeing them all the time. You can visit as often as you want and you should! If the community is close to where you live, commit to coming by every week or more. If it’s a little further, commit to visits in person as often as you can manage and if possible utilize Skype or Face Time calls in the interim. Make sure your parents know the move won’t get in the way of your relationship with each other.

Taking care of parents is a big job and you simply might not be the best person for it. Finding the right senior living community to trust with the job will improve your and your parents’ lives.