Avoid family conflicts over aging parents

Families can be torn asunder following the diagnosis of dementia in an elderly parent or grandparent. This often happens when one or more of the children or grandchildren objects to the proposed care plan for the elderly relative.

Sometimes, fissures from old family wounds reopen during these stressful times. One sibling may resent another for taking charge and making decisions for an elderly parent. This can cause resumption of sibling rivalries that might not have resurfaced for decades. While it might not be possible to sidestep all the acrimony entirely, there are ways to avoid it.

Spotting a crisis

If you live near your parents in Redlands and are in frequent contact, you may be the first to notice when their judgment seems "off." Conversely, if you always see them in the comfort zones of their own homes, you may be unaware of the confusion and distress they experience navigating the world at large.

Be on the alert for any signs that your elderly relatives are no longer competent to manage their affairs. These might include:

  • Utility cut-offs
  • Spoiled food in the refrigerator
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Changes in personality

If you notice one or more of the above, it's time to act.

Call a family meeting

If you have siblings, they need to be made aware of the situation involving their parents. Call a family meeting, either in person or via Skype or Face-time. Describe the situation and lay out some options.

Ideally, your parents will have long term care insurance that can cover their needs now and in the future. Lacking that, you may need to improvise to come up with a workable plan to keep them safe.

Ask for and entertain all serious suggestions. Just because it's not a solution you arrived at does not negate its viability. A sibling may be willing to step up and move your parent in with them, at least for the time being.

Beware of ulterior motives

Not all adult children of elderly parents have the purest motives. They may seek to get the parent under their care to control their assets and finances. This can be especially problematic if one sibling is unemployed or under-employed.

That doesn't mean that a sibling who cares for an aging parent shouldn't be compensated in some way for their services, especially if they curtailed a career to provide care. But it does mean that the situation might need careful monitoring to avoid any financial abuses from occurring.

Caregiving can affect inheritance shares

A child who feeds, diapers and otherwise meets all caregiving needs of their parent may feel entitled to a larger share of the inheritance pie upon that parent's eventual death. But since mentally incapacitated people can't sign wills or make financial decisions, the will and estate plan the elderly person had in place prior to their cognitive decline will remain in effect.

That may cause resentment among the siblings. Distant siblings may voice concerns that their caregiver sibling is burning through assets in order to divert funds to themselves.

Call in the professionals

As a concerned relative, you may want to retain the services of an elder law attorney to make sure that your parent is physically and financially protected from any type of abuse or neglect. The attorney can also be a buffer between you and family members when disputes arise.

Share on:

Recent Posts