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Sibling Conflict

By Anna Walters, RN

(Page 2 of 2)

You feel like nursing homes are horrible places where people go to wait to die. They have been abandoned by their families, who are too busy to take care of them. Because they feel so guilty about this decision, and the nursing home is such a horrible place to be, their families hate to visit. They come by less and less, make excuses, and before you know it, Mom dies in a nursing home alone, surrounded by mean strangers, full of bed sores, thin as a rail and you will never forgive yourself.

How do these two extreme opposites come to an agreement? The willingness to accept each otherís opinions without judgment will open the environment to true and helpful communication. Hold the family meeting, including all siblings, spouses and children. If you are absolutely certain you want to bring Mom into your home, try it for thirty days. Create a list of what needs to be done. Maybe your brother cannot imagine helping his mother get dressed, but he can pick up her medications. He will not take time off work to take her to the doctor during the week, but he is willing to pay the neighborís kid to mow her lawn.

By accepting each otherís opinion, you can move onto what is possible. Focus on what each of you is willing to do to make this happen. All of the family should be involved in these decisions, and all concerns should be addressed in some fashion. Compromise on those issues you cannot agree on. Do things on a trial basis and determine how the family will evaluate if it is working. Hold another family meeting in 25 days and this time try to include Mom. Is she happy? Is anyone unhappy with the arrangements? What adjustments need to be made? Will this work long term?

Good communication is just the beginning of what your family is capable of. Good Luck.

Anna Walters, RN, is the Director of Memory Care at Senior Star Living in Romeoville, Illinois. Anna has also been a family caregiver which has given her a more personal perspective into the complex problems of caregiving.

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