Attending to your aging parents can be a trying experience. It’s hard to watch them change, both physically and emotionally. It’s also difficult to know if the changes they are experiencing are normal or signs of something more serious, like dementia. Because of this, you may find yourself torn between helping them live independently in their own home or moving them into a memory care center that offers specialized care for older adults. Whatever your family decides, remember that it isn’t easy for anyone involved—including siblings who have different opinions on what is best for their parent(s).
In some cases, disagreements about where to place an aging parent can lead to serious conflicts. The good news is that there are ways for everyone involved to feel comfortable about this transition and help ensure it goes smoothly for everyone involved! Here’s how:
Siblings View Parent’s Needs Differently
As your parent ages, it’s natural for siblings to have different views on where their parents should live and how they should be cared for. For example:
You think they can stay in their home—your brother thinks it will be too much work.
You think they should move into assisted living or memory care—your sister wants them at home with her because she doesn’t want to feel guilty about leaving them alone.
You want them as far away from you as possible—they only want to live next door so they can see you daily.
The possibilities are endless! So what do you do? Here’s one solution: Sit down with each sibling individually and ask them what would make them happy at this stage in their lives, then discuss those options together (if possible).
Parents Resist Care
If your parents resist care, it’s important to listen to their concerns, understand their fears, and share your own. You’ll also want to explain what’s happening and make them feel safe.
Here are a few examples of how you can help:
Explain the benefits of care: They may be concerned that they won’t get enough attention in a memory care community or that they won’t be able to do things on their own anymore. But explaining how much more independent life will be for them will help ease these worries.
Share how the care will help: Your parents may be worried about having too little privacy with so many other people around them all day long—but explaining that there are plenty of activities going on at any given time might ease this concern.
One Child Does All the Heavy Lifting
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. One child tends to be the leader and takes on the majority of responsibility for their parent’s care.
It’s important that your sibling who is acting as a caregiver doesn’t feel like they are carrying all the weight or shouldering it alone. If no one else steps up, this can lead to resentment from other siblings who do not feel included in the process.
One Child in Control Excludes Others from Decision Making
It is important to keep everyone involved in the decision-making process. By involving others, there will be less chance of family members feeling like they have been excluded and can work together as a team to make decisions.
Caring for Both Parents at Once
There are a few things you need to consider before deciding to care for both parents at once:
Are you able to handle the demands of caring for two people? The emotional and physical toll of caring for an elderly parent can be taxing, so make sure you can take on this added responsibility. Also, consider if your personal life is in good enough shape that adding another dependent will negatively impact it.
Can you afford dual full-time care? If so, great! If not, then maybe it’s best not to move them into memory care until your finances improve (or you change jobs).