Can we all just get along? Tips and advice for dealing with siblings when moving parents into Aged Care…

Arguing over aged care needs

It can be difficult for families who have never gotten along or live apart to make decisions together, especially when there are multiple siblings with their own individual beliefs, ideas and views on how best to care for their parents. It is very common for siblings to feel they are not getting the support they need from each other at this difficult time. Watching our parents and loved one’s decline can make us more even more sensitive, unreasonable and volatile.

Disagreements stem from many issues; some more common ones include;

  • Care-giving arrangements – who is responsible for what and is there an imbalance causing resentment?
  • Family possessions – who gets what when parents downsize or after they pass away?
  • Finances – how money should be spent and for what and who will be power of attorney when Mum and Dad can no longer make those decisions…?
  • The Tough Talks – who will tell Mum or Dad they can no longer drive and need extra support for those everyday tasks?
  • Housing arrangements– if Mum or Dad has had to placed in a home or has passed away, is it safe for the remaining parent to stay in the family home alone?

Strategies to Avoid Conflict and Drama with Siblings over Aged Care;

  • Be empathetic. Be compassionate and try your best to be understanding of your siblings’ personal circumstances and point of view.
  • Divide responsibilities. Choose who is best suited to tackle what? (communicating with the doctors, paying bills or researching housing options).
  • Keep Calm! Hold your tongue and keep reminding yourself, this is an emotional time for everyone…
  • Include Mum and/or Dad in the conversation. Have your parents participate on some decision making if it’s possible to do so.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Arrange meetings in person if possible or skype call. There are also now private websites that allow different members of the family to update care/ medical needs through a cared platform.
  • Be clear about your needs. Don’t assume people know what your needs are, be clear.
  • Don’t expect a miracle. Don’t expect that sibling you have never got along with to change, do your best to keep calm and take the time out you require if things get heated. If you need to vent, talk to a therapist, a friend or discuss with others going through a similar situation on one of the many forums online
  • Engage a 3rd Party to deal with the placement. If you can’t seem to make it work, engaging a placement consultant can be your most valuable decision – as well as arranging aged care placement they can speak to siblings independently if required and can assist with extra needs such as financial and logistical. They have seen it all before and can handle professionally and compassionately.
  • Counselling. You may want to consider some group counselling as a last resort, having a professional can certainly help.

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