Sibling Rivalry: Getting on the Same Page About Parents Care

SIBLING RIVALRY'S ARE NOT LIMITED TO CHILDHOOD AND PLAYGROUNDS

Having all family members agree on a restaurant for dinner can cause knock-down-drag-outs for some.  The thought of discussing moving mom or dad to a nursing home or assisted living facility could cause thermo-nuclear war.  Family dynamics, family history, "that one time mom told me to never move them", or the estranged brother who never cared and now wants to be the main decision maker can cause some family rifts (to put it lightly) in such a difficult time.   

As a mentor once told me, "there are no silver bullets to difficult situations.  Just a whole lot of lead bullets."  So that's all I can give you; a bunch of lead bullets.  This situation is not easy and there is a high probability that not everyone will agree.  That is ok.  You do not have to agree but you do have to be on the same page.  So here are the lead bullets I have for you:
 

STEP 1: START TALKING

Everyone is going to have an opinion.  Get it out there.  Whether that is a phone call or a sit down over coffee, start talking.  Get all of the "decision makers/influencers" in the room and evaluate all options, opinions and general thoughts.  

Start documenting all of the possible options.  Even if "crazy-sister Jean" throws out some outlandish, unrealistic idea stay calm and write it down as you would any other.  Everyone needs to feel heard and that their opinion is respected.

STEP 2: CREATE A UNITED FRONT

This is critical.  Whether sourcing an Assisted Living Facility, hiring in-home caregivers or another option, BEFORE picking a plan, have everyone agree they will show a united front. Explain the value of all siblings and decision makers/influencers being on the same page.  You may have to convince your parents of this plan or they may be onboard with whatever you decide, either way, everyone needs to stand together.  If someone does not agree, the entire plan can crumble.

STEP 3: NARROW THE LIST & RESEARCH THE OPTIONS

Narrow the list of options to two or three.  These options should be the best for your parents and encompass everyone's opinions.  Then begin the due diligence process.  Make the calls, do the research, and talk to unbiased, 3rd party resources.  Find anything that you can about all options.  If you are evaluating different Nursing Homes, research a wide range.  If you are evaluating a facility OR staying in the home with help, research the pros and cons of both.  This process can be long and should be detailed.  Here are some tips of things to look for: 

  • Cost analysis
  • Community reputation
  • State qualifications and ratings (where applicable)
  • Cleanliness of facilities
  • Hiring practices for caregivers and/or nurses

Be sure you have a timeline set up for all decision makers/influencers to do their own research.  2-3 weeks should be a reasonable amount of time for everyone to exhaust their options.

STEP 4: SET THE PLAN

Get everyone back together and show each person's findings.  Let each person discuss what they found then make their own recommendation.  After everyone has gone, have an open discussion about the best solution.  Be sure to remind the group that they already agreed to show a united front.

Begin crafting the plan and set the wheels into motion.  Decide who is going to do what and by when.  Having everyone involved in the execution of the plan can result in more buy-in, even if they originally disagree with the course of action.  

When All Else Fails

Don't get me wrong, even with the best of intentions, communication can breakdown and a family can be at a stalemate.  Think about bringing in a 3rd party resource to help mediate.  Geriatric therapists or care managers can be a great unbiased resource that understand what you are going through and can make a professional suggestion.  If you would like to have a free consultation to see if a care manager could help you, just click here and we can talk!

Final Word

This can take time.  Remember why you are having these discussions: your parents.  Keep them the main focus and do not let personalities or family history distract you from putting together the best plan of action for improving their quality of life!