Taking Care of Elderly Parents with Dementia and Uninvolved Siblings

By on August 5, 2016
taking care of elderly parents with dementia

Taking care of elderly parents with dementia and uninvolved siblings is an ongoing problem for many.  This is constantly a tough topic to talk about. The truth of the issue is, numerous primary care givers feel as if they are alone. Many deal with uninvolved and uncooperative siblings or extended family members.  The reasons that these family members may be uninvolved due to the fact that they live far away, others,  simply do not desire to assist in providing care.

Providing care for aging can rekindle sibling rivalries that have been dormant since everyone has moved out of the parents. This discord can and does tear families apart. For those that chose to be uninvolved, they lose the last opportunities have to create or even develop meaningful, positive memories with their aging parents.

Noting brings out the “dysfunction” in a family than a crisis or increased stress. Dealing with family dynamics are very complex. There are two very common underlying themes that consistently occur between most sibling disputes when addressing their parent’s care. These themes injustice and inheritance.

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Feelings of  Injustice
IT is very common that one sibling takes on a disproportionate burden of providing the majority of their aging parents care. It is usually a daughter that lives the closest to the aging family member. Over time, the primary caregiver develops a sense of resentment and anger at the other siblings.  Often times, male siblings feel that their work is more important than helping to take care their aging parents. Often, the siblings  that live a distance for the aging parents feel that they are  “off the hook” when it comes to provide for aging parents. The sibling that lives the closest often feels obliged and pressured by the other siblings to take on the care giver role. Over time, the primary caregiving sibling needs help from other siblings, as caregiving can last many , many ears.  The uninvolved siblings usually do not  fully appreciate the work and effort that caregiving entails.  Many choose to ignore how much help their aging and declining parent needs. Many uninvolved siblings  have no idea how much work, how the caregiving sibling may be affect financially nor are they aware of the time it takes to provide care for another human being. Statistics show that the primary care giver become socially isolated, financially devastated and even ends up quitting work to provide the care their parents need.

taking care of elderly parents with dementia

Inheritance

One of the biggest conflicts siblings clash over is the parents finances. Statistics show that the average American household net worth has had a declined 40% ten years. This means that less siblings, expecting an inheritance, consider that they must divide even smaller inheritance if a family member is put into a nursing home or they believe the primary caregiving sibling is spending money unnecessarily.  These are just a few things regarding money that increasing the likelihood of sibling conflict. While it is easy easy to condemn the siblings who seems preoccupied with finances and inheritance, you must consider that this sibling may be hoping to deal with a difficult financial situation. Of course, there are the siblings that are just greedy and controlling and do not want to be involved in their parents care. This further increases the conflict between family members.

A sibling who provides the day to day care of their parent’s care over a period of years,  may feel entitled to a larger portion of any inheritance.  Many caregiving siblings move their parents into their homes or move into their parents home.  In some cases, siblings who are uninvolved or live a long distance from tier parents, may believe that the sibling providing the majority of the care is spending too much money on a parent’s care. This causes even greater conflicts that affect the “care” of the parents as, the uninvolved siblings will block decisions by the caregiving sibling and resist plans for professional care such as home care or admission to assisted living or a nursing home. All this in  order to “protect” an inheritance.

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Developing a person centered care profile is a method to share the techniques, tips, and strategies in caregiving that you have actually discovered that work. It is so essential for the primary caretaker to get breaks and durations of break. In the very early phases of dementia, I promote  the primary caretaker to establish a family caregiver contract. This contract, gives the caretaker protection from the uninvolved siblings. It likewise offers everyone clear expectations of the experience ahead.

For those uninvolved siblings that live far away, it may be possible or even suitable for them to think about taking your dementia family member on a vacation at times. Your goal for your family member with dementia is wellness, comfort and to encourage independence for as long as possible.  Data show that caregiver tension in those that provide care for a household participant with dementia becomes seriously ill or dies prior to the dementia patient does.

In spite of the conflict and anger, the caregiving sibling must learn to protect themselves from their siblings. Many are sued and accused of unsavory activity, all while the caregiving sibling is trying to provide meaningful care to their aging parents.

Opening the lines of communications between is important. Having regular family meetings to discuss what the wishes of the aging family member are, the long and short term goals to for each aging family member and the steps needed to accomplish those goals.

If the situation between siblings has gotten to a point that a family meeting is not possible, having a neutral third party, such as a care manager, an elder care consultant may help all involved find a middle ground to agree upon.

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