Working through Sibling Conflict When Caring for a Parent

Working through Sibling Conflict When Caring for a Parent

Dear Donna:

My dad’s health has been gradually declining over the past few years. During that time, my husband, children, and I have been helping him out around the house and with transportation. I’ve also started preparing most of his meals. It’s become a near full-time role for me.

While we’ve managed so far, my siblings are always complaining about what I do and don’t do for my dad. Both live nearby but neither one pitches in to help. It’s causing friction between my husband and I as he sees the physical and emotional toll it’s taking on me.

The time has come to have an honest discussion with my siblings about their behavior and lack of support. I’m just not sure how to do that. Do you have any advice?

Sincerely,

Sophia in Grand Haven, MI

Working Together to Support an Aging Parent

Dear Sophia:

First, know that we often hear from others in the same situation. Watching a parent’s decline stirs up difficult and complex emotions. In many families, one sibling shoulders the primary responsibilities of caregiving. That said, it doesn’t make your situation any easier. But I have a few suggestions that might be useful.

  • Create a current task list: List the tasks and errands your family helps your father with. It’s probably a good idea to separate these items by frequency. Make a column for daily tasks like assisting your dad with his showers and a column for weekly chores like lawn care. A third column can be used for intermittent tasks like transportation and snow removal.
  • Make a to-do list: Also make a list of items that you haven’t gotten around to. This can include household maintenance like painting the front door or fixing a broken handle.
  • Share responsibilities: Think through everything you do for your father. Which tasks do you want to continue doing? Which would you like help with? Your siblings may even need to take over for a while if you and your husband need a break.
  • Schedule a family meeting: Once you have organized your thoughts and needs, you and your husband should meet with your siblings. It may help to email them the list of chores you created. Let them know you are looking to work together to split up the responsibilities more equitably.
  • Invite an unbiased advisor: Some families find it useful to enlist the services of an aging life care professional. They can mediate family disagreements and assist in hiring and supervising in-home care professionals. Also known as geriatric care managers, they are experts in navigating the search for a senior living community.

One final suggestion is to consider a week or two of respite care at an assisted living center for your father. He might enjoy having caregivers nearby 24/7 and the opportunity to socialize with his peers. The break will also give you time to work through the situation with your siblings.

I hope this is helpful, Sophia! Please feel free to contact me or a member of one of our local Heritage communities if you have any questions!

Kind regards,

Donna

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts for a Senior

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts for a Senior

Mother’s Day is a holiday that began in 1908 by a West Virginia daughter. Her goal was to honor her activist mother, Anna Jarvis, and her commitment to teaching women how to properly care for their children. Over the years, Mother’s Day has evolved. On the second Sunday in May each year, we celebrate mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other women who make a difference in their families’ lives.

As the holiday approaches, we want to share some ideas to help you honor the women in your family with unique and memorable gifts.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

  • Quilt kit: Art projects are good for the mind and spirit. A senior in your family might appreciate a quilt kit she can use to create her very own masterpiece. They are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and prices. You can easily find kits for beginners. Etsy is a great resource to explore.
  • Storytime video chat: When families are separated by a long distance, a tablet device can make it easier to connect. If your children or grandchildren are younger, they might enjoy showing off their reading skills for a grandmother. You can use a free platform like Skype or Zoom. If finances permit, purchase a system like GrandCare to enjoy story time across the miles. Borrow or purchase two copies of a book for the senior and the kids to read together. Experience gifts like this are priceless to older loved ones and children alike.
  • Homemade coupon book: Another unique and personalized gift is to create a coupon book. A senior can trade in coupons for time with family or help with projects. Ask each family member to come up with a coupon or two. Maybe a tech-savvy grandchild can create a coupon to help their grandmother set up a new streaming service or learn how to use Alexa. Another loved one might add a coupon for a family movie night or girls’ lunch. Be creative in coming up with ideas and experiences that match the senior’s hobbies and interests.
  • Handcrafted gift: While indulgence gifts like expensive jewelry are nice, don’t overlook how heartwarming handmade Mother’s Day presents can be. You can purchase craft kits at a local hobby store for yourself or the grandchildren to use. You’ll find options ranging from stained glass kits to packages with everything needed to make a garden stepping stone. These make memorable presents for a senior loved one.

Finally, creating a family cookbook is another memorable gift idea for Mother’s Day. The whole family can get involved by contributing their favorite recipes. How to Create a Family Cookbook in Honor of Mother’s Day shares advice and resources to make it easier to get started!