There are two things in life that are certain: aging parents and taxes. Just when you think that you can enjoy your ‘empty nest’, you find that your parents’ health is beginning to decline, either physically or mentally. With two or more siblings, it may be challenging to share responsibilities in an equitable and realistic manner. These are just a few basic things to consider as you move forward.
Start early. It’s never too early to begin to have this discussion. In fact, talking about this very stressful topic when you’re pressured to make a decision may be counter-productive. If possible, bring everyone together to have the initial conversation to begin to plan for the future. Make sure to include your parent(s) in this discussion. The 5 Wishes is a living will that may help to guide this conversation. You can access this at doctors’ offices, nursing homes, or online at http://www.agingwithdignity.org/forms/5wishes.pdf.
Talk often. It’s helpful to keep the lines of communication open. People and situations change, so it’s important to revisit the current plan periodically. Use this as a time to discuss concerns and brainstorm solutions. At some point, it may be necessary to discuss adult daycare or placement in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Give this topic the time it deserves.
Define limits. Recognize and utilize the gifts that each sibling has to offer. One sibling might have the financial means to assist while another has more time to transport to doctors’ appointments. A third might have great organizational skills to deal with the mountains of paperwork. If you have a sibling that refuses to cooperate, you have choices.
Just remember, with some effort and cooperation in these in these areas, the entire family can enjoy your parents’ Golden Years. So pick up the phone, make that call to bring the family together, and face these challenges before they become problematic.
Lisa Ransford, LPC, CACII is a part of The Therapist Group at Maria Droste Counseling Center.