Siblings often revisit old hurts when working out care plans for aging parents. Best to set those aside and have the discussions before a health crisis occurs.
Caring for aging parents while they are well, during a health crisis and at end-of-life is now falling into the daily lives of many Baby Boomers. US News recently provided useful insight in “Dividing the Caregiving Responsibilities Between Siblings,” which looks at the responsibilities that siblings need to manage. Having realistic and respectful discussions about who can do what for mom and dad is not always easy, but it is critical for the family to move forward.
Decades ago, the task of caring for parents fell to the eldest daughter. Now, with families living all over the country and women’s income an equal part of family economics, that is no longer the case. Plus, siblings with differing incomes and obligations may also disagree over how to pay for care and health services for the parents.
There’s no rule that says responsibilities have to be divided equally. The fact that a sibling lives in a different time zone doesn't mean he or she can't pitch in. In many instances, siblings out of the area can call regularly to check in on a parent, pay their bills online, hire help or visit to relieve the local caregiver.
Here are some ideas for dividing the caregiving duties among siblings.
- Don’t wait until the ride home from an emergency room visit. Talk about the options when everyone is calm and healthy, including your parents so they can be a part of the conversation as well. When there’s an agreement on responsibilities, write it down.
- If you're factoring in Medicaid coverage for your parents, talk with a Medicaid or elder law attorney in your parents’ state.
- Match up your parents' needs with your siblings' abilities and find the best fit based on their strengths, aptitudes and willingness to help.
- Don’t be afraid to get some outside help if you and your siblings can't provide all the help your parents need.
Communicating with each other on a regular basis is the cornerstone of a successful team effort. Remember that while email and texts can convey information quickly, you also need to hear each other’s voices. Remember, you are family, working together to care for those you love.
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