Siblings, money and care plans
For the whole of our lifetime, we are beholden to the careful attempts of our parents to keep us safe, to teach us what we need in order to thrive in this world and hopefully, they have given this to us in a way that helped us to succeed that seemed most important to our families. This natural order of things becomes ingrained in our behaviors so completely, that we can often miss the signs that our time to take over for our parents has arrived. We are now needed to reverse roles with them. Doing this without hurt feelings or conflict is essential for the peace and continued function of your family system.
Out of sight, out of mind
When families become separated by jobs and distance, we can miss the most significant changes an elder is going through. We don’t realize how subtle the changes are, such as the slow increase of shuffling from increased inability to lift one’s feet, which can cause a sudden fall over any throw rug edge. Or the creeping forgetfulness that can actually manifest in the form of forgetting to eat, take medications on time, or to pay bills in a timely manner. Sometimes families have communication difficulties and imbalance creeps in when a local sibling finds themselves having to check in on Mom and Dad almost daily. Fairness for sharing the responsibility of keeping parents safely supervised once this aging becomes real can sometimes be challenging to remember. Everyone already has very busy lives. Most people have families of their own. Caring for aging parents can seep into our lives unnoticed until caregiver stress trickles in.
Take advantage of mediation
Front ending conflict is always the most sane approach. It is the most cost and energy effective way to go. It doesn’t really matter anymore if a parent has taken favorites, been unfair in perspectives on others or in any other manner purposefully or un-purposefully caused emotional issues within the sibling circle and inner family systems, it is time to knock it off. Fairness is maturity. One person’s time helping can be spent in a distant manner of doing telephone calls and appointments, or other online research - if others are spending time in the home doing laundry and refilling medicines. One person can handle the financial aspects of maintaining an estate or household, while others take on the stabilization of non-intrusive end-of-life process documents and medical directives. Working together to do the right thing for the parents, aunts and uncles helps heal family systems. Since it’s all about love anyway, right? If there is still too much negativity or bitterness, do try mediation with a trusted un-involved geriatric counsellor, or other professional. It’s now or never for family system healing.
Taking the stress off
Another way to take the stress off is to collectively make sure a caregiver is supporting the family system in a manner that prevents caregiver stress. Someone who is not entangled in family drama or intrigue is always going to be the most neutral and therefore able to fully care for and support full dignity and respect for the tired elders who begin to slowly shrink before our eyes. Vulnerability is nature’s way of reclaiming our humility after decades of self-confidence. Offering our elders as much dignity and respect as possible, is truly the best way to support everyone in the family to have only the best of time with them right now. The dinners together, or the movies and walks. By focusing here we are deliberately making our elder’s twilight years some of the best of all for the whole family.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’s love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.