Convincing My Sibling That Our Parent Should Move to a Retirement Home

September 27, 2022

You’re concerned about your aging parent. They’ve been having health issues. Despite your best attempts to support them in their current home, you’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that it’s time for them to move to a retirement home. The trouble is that one of your siblings doesn’t agree.

You’re frustrated. You’re having a hard enough time bringing your parent around to the idea of moving to a retirement home. It doesn’t help that your sibling is raising objections. They don’t seem to understand just how precarious your parent’s situation is. You wish they would face reality.

Why are they being this way?

Diverging accounts

Well, one reason is that they may be hearing a different story from your parents than you are.

According to Barry Jacobs, a regular correspondent for AARP on the topic of family caregiving, “When an aging parent gives diverging accounts of herself to her adult children, it can inflame the natural tendency of rivalrous siblings to disagree about what that parent's condition and needs are.”

Your parent may routinely share all their negative feelings with you but act positively chipper whenever they talk with your brother or sister. It’s not that they’re purposely trying to play each of you against the other. It may simply be that they pick and choose what they share based on the different relationship they have with each of you.

We all do it, writes Jacobs. Reserve the right to change or shade our story for different audiences.

Your sibling may be hearing a story from your parents that things are fine. And if your sibling takes the story at face value, they may think you’re overreacting when you suggest a move to a retirement home.

If reaching a consensus is difficult, you may want to get a neutral third-party involved that understands how to guide these sorts of conversations.

Compare notes

To nip this in the bud, be sure to compare notes with your sibling to understand what each of you has heard. Keep in mind that your parent is likely telling each of you a different version of the truth. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming your sibling is in denial or isn’t your parent’s close confidant the way you are.

Jacobs suggests developing a consensus about your parent’s condition and caregiving needs by using frequent texts or having at least quarterly conference calls in which each family member reports their perceptions.

“Then,” Jacob writes, “as a group, determine what you know for sure and what's still unclear. Then create a plan to try to gain greater clarity by talking with physicians and other professionals about your parent’s status or having a different kind of conversation with [your] parent.”

Sometimes this is easier said than done, however.

Getting a neutral third party involved

If reaching a consensus is difficult, you may want to get a neutral third-party involved that understands how to guide these sorts of conversations.

That’s where Tea and Toast can help. If your parent lives in the Ottawa area and might be a candidate for a retirement home, we can facilitate discussions with your parent and/or sibling. We’ve helped hundreds of families. Contact us. 

Read next

Recommended read