Care partnering isn’t easy. But from an outsider’s perspective elder care seems so simple, right? You love the person deeply and would do anything for them. But there are so many factors that can hamper the caregiving process as your loved one ages – in good health and bad.
One factor that people tend to overlook is sibling rivalry in elder care. You and your sibling(s) – or other close family members and friends – want to do the best you possibly can. But you may have vastly different visions for matters like:
- Medical care
- Financial & legal planning
- Residential placement
- And even household chores and recreation activities
I’ve seen families torn apart over this. Sometimes over big things. Sometimes over little things. And always over things that could’ve been resolved with a fair, well-considered life-care plan.
Build a Life-Care Plan That Lessens the Risk for Family Conflict
Sibling relationships may be challenging even in the best of times. And when care partnering for an aging or sick parent enters the equation, conflicts between siblings and other close family members can become much more prevalent – even inevitable.
The United Disabilities Services Foundation reports 17% of adults will care for their parents at some point in their lives. There is sometimes an imbalance in caregiving responsibilities, sometimes because of proximity to the elder or because one sibling is better suited for the caregiver role. Full-time care-partner responsibilities often fall disproportionately on a daughter or other female family member.
These elder care factors, among others, can cause anger, resentment and bitterness if they’re not managed and if communication isn’t strong among family members. Unfortunately, we’ve even seen frustration fester and boil into hatred (and families have never been the same).
So let’s build a life-care plan that eliminates stress by anticipating realities, assigning roles and responsibilities, and getting the financial and legal house in order. (Helpful hint: in so doing, you’ll honor your aging loved one more than you know.)
Let’s Honor Your Loved One with a Plan That’s Good for Everyone!
Family conflict arises from confusion. It grows in resentment. Care-partner tasks may be too much to handle, lumped on too few people, or exclude important people. And yes, unfortunately, the financial and legal aspects are often the most hotly contested – whether it’s settling power of attorney or who gets what (and how much) in the will.
This often requires working together to hire or consult with professionals to finalize all the details early enough so:
- Your loved one can still advocate for their own needs and wants
- Care partner roles and responsibilities can be considered based on personal strengths/resources and availability
- Everyone can approach the process without overwhelming emotion
Together, you may decide when is the right time to enter an assisted-living facility, memory care or hospice. And most importantly, you’ll determine with your aging loved one how best to provide care and compassion.
Here’s a list of factors and pinpoints that should be thought out and prepared for in order to create a smooth-sailing life-care plan for elder care.
- Assess the needs of your loved one(s) — (family/friend support, home safety, medical needs, cognitive health, mobility, personal hygiene, meal preparation, social life, etc.)
- Build a comprehensive care-partner team (with responsibilities and contingencies for emergencies and availability)
- Evaluate, understand and prepare financials
- Build and practice strong communication
- Explore personal and professional caregiving options (care managers, patient advocates, primary care, in-home help, assisted living, geriatricians, clinicians, lawyers, insurance agents, financial advisors, etc.)
You may have natural amounts of patience, compassion and empathy, but you’ll need to hone these skills and others in order to provide proper levels of care for a loved one in need. Each person is different. Depending on the issues or conditions individuals face, you’ll have to prepare in different ways.
Some family members are simply better suited for certain tasks. Others may prepare their own “specialties” for the sake of avoiding confrontation and rivalry.
Many families tend to put off these important conversations until it’s too late. Some don’t prepare at all, unfortunately. Adult children often lament not taking action to reduce their anxiety about the situation and prepare while their elders are still healthy and cognizant. Even if your parents are healthy or too young at heart to worry, time isn’t on anyone’s side. Don’t wait! Accidents, unexpected illness, dementia and other unfortunate circumstances can affect anyone at any given time. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get these important processes started.