Q: Recently there has been some conflict in my family. I’m the oldest of three children and my parents are in their early 80s, their health is slowly beginning to decline. My siblings and I can’t seem to agree on what should be done. Help!
This is a tough situation. Thanks for reaching out to us. No doubt there are many others feeling the same stress. It is very difficult when it’s clear that everyone involved has good intentions but cannot agree on how the situation should be handled. Here are some tips to help get your family on the same page.
Get Your Parents’ Input- This is the best jumping off point. If your parents are able to let you know their wishes (stay at home, move in with family, move into a facility etc.) the entire family can use this as common ground. If yours parents are no longer able to share their wishes, refer to any legal documents they may have prepared that include their care preferences. Everyone’s goal should be to make sure that your parents’ wishes are carried out.
Call a Family Meeting- If possible; get everyone in the same room together. Make it a safe environment so that everyone feels comfortable sharing their concerns and their reasons for believing that their plan of action is best. Give everyone a chance to vent and voice their concerns. Make sure to keep everyone on track, the goal is to ensure that your parents’ wishes are granted.
Involve a Geriatric Care Manager- If your parents are unable to express their wishes and your family is beyond the point of being able to meet together to work out the issues regarding your parents’ future care it may be best to involve a care manager. It is the job of the Care Manager to advocate on your parents’ behalf. This means that it is their duty to express to all those involved what’s in their best interest. A Care Manager will also see to it that any wishes your parents did express, whether in legal documents or vocally, are granted to the best of their ability.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful and that your family can come together and support each other during this phase of life.