Friday, July 23, 2010

Conflict Resolution Needed Here

One of the most common issues I have dealt with in helping families find ways to care for their aging parents is the conflicts that arise among siblings. It's almost like a time warp taking them back to childhood rivalries. Now it's focused on the parents. As each child struggles with their own guilt and other issues about living far away, not being able to provide the care, the money to assist with care or even just to cope with what's happening, there builds a huge struggle about what the parents need.

Sometimes it's about wanting to be the one in charge, or a need to seem like the big hero, or it's about making sure they're still in the will, or to be the favorite child. What was your childhood like? Which sibling had these same issues as a kid? Yep, deja vu!

Occasionally it's not even reality based. One sibling may seem to think that dad needs total care when indeed, he just needs some occasional supervision, transportation, and some assistance with writing checks (or online bill paying), grocery shopping, and cleaning/laundry. Once he starts to need a little help doesn't mean that he's going to be total care in a few short days!!

Deal with each crisis as it comes along. Each time they will need a little more care for a little longer, and sometimes 24 hour care for short periods of time, but encourage as much independence (as is safe) as soon as possible to keep them strong and active. 

Be alert to subtle signs and signals, and have a plan to make changes as you need to....but don't go overboard at the first signs of decline. The aging process is a long time line.

Here's a great resource to help you cope with some of those conflicts that arise as one sibling or another feels the need to take charge and take unnecessary steps way too early on.