I recently read an article by Belinda Hulin, a contributor to the web site Care.com. The article was titled Sibling Strife: How to Resolve the 3 Senior Care Issues Siblings Fight About Most. The article summarized issues that I see in my practice that cause many families to argue and to ultimately fall apart.
Francine Russo, author of “They’re Your Parents, Too” shares her research that finds that in 90% of families, one sibling shoulders more, if not most, of the caregiving burden for an elderly parent. This dynamic can often create difficult relationships between siblings. She also outlines the following stressors between siblings: 1. Roles and Rivalries; 2. Sharing Responsibilities; and 3. Spending and Needs Assessments. Disagreements on spending, money and property are often the crux of disagreements between siblings. The issue will grow due to a lack of understanding and/or communication.
The best outcome generally occurs when Mom and Dad lead the way. Parents who put together a plan and make their wishes known well in advance can eliminate a lot of conflict within the family. However, if such planning has not happened, siblings should adopt a goal to make their parents proud. Open communication and shared responsibility can go along way to preserving family harmony and meeting the needs of Mom and Dad.