Figuring Out Next Steps For Your Aging Parents: Dealing with Family Conflict
January 29, 2019
Let’s face it: most families experience some level of conflict from time to time.
But when faced with something incredibly emotional—such as figuring out how to care for an aging parent—that kind of family conflict can lead to arguments, resentment…and even giving up.
A troubling situation
Here’s a common example of family disagreements we see at Tea and Toast:
Mom and Dad are living in a two-storey home. Over time, their adult children start noticing that their parents aren’t eating well, avoiding social events, and have begun sleeping in the living room.
When asked why they aren’t going upstairs, their response is “We get tired and fall asleep here.” However, it’s no secret that Mom has problems with her knees, and Dad is about to go in for hip surgery.
In this scenario, all three children are concerned for their parents’ wellbeing and safety. But they all have different opinions on next steps:
One sibling believes they should hire a caregiver.
Another thinks it is time to move their parents into a retirement home.
The third sibling insists their parents should be fine if the kids just check in on them more often.
The conversation of “next steps” and moving has been broached many times. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad have repeatedly said they prefer to live at home until a crisis occurs.
Eventually, the conflict and disagreement on next steps become so overwhelming that everyone gives up on doing anything to help Mom and Dad.
And so, Mom and Dad continue with “life as usual,” with everyone thinking it will be easier to make decisions once a crisis happens.
Act now, not later
At Tea and Toast, we always recommend planning next steps for aging parents well in advance.
A senior living advisor takes everyone’s opinions into account—and together, will find a way for everyone to compromise and get on the same page regarding next steps for Mom and/or Dad.
Types of family conflicts
Most often, family conflicts surrounding “what to do with Mom and/or Dad” come down to one of three scenarios:
Siblings all believe they know what’s best for Mom and Dad.
Often, our senior living advisors have had to sit down with family members and act as mediators—helping them “hash it out” and weighing the pros and cons of each option they prefer. Once done as a group, it’s usually easier to see which solution fits best.
Out-of-town siblings who choose to weigh in heavily against those who see Mom and Dad regularly.
Sometimes, siblings try to “child from afar” and make decisions, despite having the least understanding of the situation. This can create a toxic situation—especially because their parents may be hiding most things from them. In most cases, they can’t get a true read on a parent’s situation unless they have seen it frequently.
One or more siblings are counting on an inheritance.
And so, they don’t necessarily want to spend the extra money on caring for their parents. Sad to say, sometimes we see these types of people.
How to make the best decision possible
As mentioned above, it’s very important to gain the support of everyone involved.
Oftentimes, these conversations are difficult. They require siblings to put their own feelings aside and really dig deep to figure out the best situation for their loved ones.
If you wish to try decision-making with the help of a senior living advisor, here are a few tips to help you and your siblings make the best decision possible for your ageing parents:
There tends to be one main leader amongst siblings. Without being bossy, it’s a good idea to propose 2-3 meeting times so that everyone can fit it into their schedule.
Meet with siblings in person, or via Skype OR Zoom, in a quiet place without distraction. This situation requires full attention.
If possible, it’s usually a good idea not to include spouses in the first discussion—especially if there is any animosity amongst the group.
As you discuss options, write them down and try to find some middle ground.