As elderly parents begin to rely on family for support, conflict between adult children can begin. This can be a difficult time as you go from seeing each other from once a year, to needing to make important and intense decisions together. As old rivalries and criticisms are brought back to the surface, here are three ideas to make sure everyone works together:
- Work as a team. Outline everyone’s roles and responsibilities in terms of the care plan, and look at it as you would if you were filling these roles at work or a church committee. Look at the roles objectively, and then set up a communication plan so that everyone can be updated on a timely manner.
- Let people help in the way that they’re most comfortable. If someone in the family loves to cook, have them bring dinner. If someone works in a hospital, they would be ideal for taking care of all the medical information. Cooperation between siblings can start as early as when one parent passes away, and needing to call and check in on the other parent so they’re not lonely.
- Get a third-party involved. A neutral third-party such as a social worker, pastor, or family friend can help calm the tension between siblings. There are also family mediators who specialize in senior care issues that can help find middle-ground and break through ill will.
Remember that there are no perfect families. Be calm, take it slow, and communicate early. The main objective is getting your parents the help they need.