Many families struggle when a loved one can no longer take care of themselves and need a helping hand. It is common for tension to develop between family members about who will take care of a mom or dad with dementia for example.
One sibling will assume no one expects them to be involved because they are too busy with important things like a career, schooling, or their own family responsibilities. In large families, if everyone pitched in, it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice, yet, that’s rarely the case. It’s common for families to think their sister or brother should be the caretaker because it’s their nature. That nurturing person will usually step-up and be the primary caretaker, but over time, it can create resentment towards those that don’t help and take the caring one for granted.
In a similar way, when a “good family” has the prospect of a large inheritance coming, that sweet family can turn ugly with fights and power struggles to get their share of the spoils.
One of the most difficult decisions that families face when a parent has dementia is who will provide care and support for the parent. This decision can cause conflict and resentment among adult siblings, especially if they have different opinions, preferences, or expectations about the best course of action. Some of the common problems that adult siblings have with each other when they find out one of their parents has dementia are:
- Often, the children have different views over the diagnosis and treatment. Some siblings may deny or minimize the severity of the parent’s condition, while others may accept or exaggerate it. Some siblings may want to pursue aggressive medical interventions, while others may prefer palliative or alternative approaches. Some siblings may want to involve the parent in the decision-making process, while others may think the parent is incapable of making rational choices.
- Different opinions over the living arrangement and care plan. Some siblings may want the parent to stay at home with family or professional caregivers, while others may want the parent to move to a residential facility or a hospice. Some siblings may want to share the caregiving responsibilities equally, while others may want to delegate or avoid them. Some siblings may want to hire outside help, while others may want to save money or maintain privacy.
- Disagreements over the financial and legal matters. Some children may want to manage the parent’s finances and legal affairs, while others may want to have a say or a share in them. Some siblings may want to use the parent’s assets for their care, while others may want to preserve them for inheritance. Some siblings may want to apply for public benefits or insurance, while others may want to avoid them. Some siblings may want to create or update the parent’s will, advance directive, or power of attorney, while others may want to respect the parent’s wishes or challenge them.
These disagreements can lead to arguments, accusations, blame, guilt, anger, resentment, and estrangement among siblings. They can also affect the quality of care and support that the parent receives, as well as the well-being and mental health of the siblings themselves.
To prevent or resolve these problems, adult siblings need to communicate openly and respectfully with each other, and try to understand each other’s perspectives and feelings. They also need to collaborate and compromise on the best interests of the parent, and seek professional guidance and assistance when needed. They can benefit from joining a caregiver support group, attending a family therapy session, or consulting a mediator or a lawyer. Most importantly, they need to remember that they are not alone, and that they share a common bond and a common goal: to love and care for their parent with dementia.
Homecare Alternatives is here to help families solve these challenges. Call us today! 352-681-8993