As our parents age new dynamics can start to play out in families that can take some time and thought to manage. Many opinions will likely start to arise from every quarter and tensions can start to put pressures on family relationships. Firstly, know that figuring out how and who is going to look after your parents as their needs grow is a tricky process to navigate. No family has ever done it perfectly or can hope to do it perfectly. Here are some suggestions on how to approach this time of life and ways to manage needs and expectations.
Start The Discussion Early
It can be a long process figuring out parental needs, expectations and wants. Start the discussion over what kind of help they would like, who is going to carry that responsibility and if any external help should be called in. Talk about the nitty gritty topics like finances, power of attorney and crisis management responses for all involved. By starting the conversations early you can give yourself, your siblings and your parents enough time to be able to knuckle these topics out.
Put Up Boundaries And Maintain Them
To avoid resentment and burn out occurring it is strongly advised by health care practitioners that the care of elderly parents falls equally to family members. If some siblings live great distances away getting external help can be the way that closer siblings can avoid bearing the full responsibility of care. Spend time discerning what you are able to contribute in terms of caring for your parents, that will be possible, healthy and sustainable. Be sure to express your thoughts clearly and calmly in the discussion mentioned above.
Have Regular Family Meetings
To ensure that everyone is on the same page schedule regular meetings, preferably weekly between the siblings and those responsible for the care. With apps like Whatsapp, Skype and others this can be done for siblings even living overseas quite easily. In these meetings be sure to share updates on your parents health and any new developments. With everyone on the same page, the team can be working together to figure out the best new steps for care and to ensure that relevant and timely information is shaping suggestions.
Get Access Online
Consolidating banks accounts into one so that services can be paid for efficiently and by various siblings can be a way to minimise financial stress. It is also advised that having common access to an account can ensure accountability and transparent management of funds. Creating a messaging group or email chain between those responsible for care can make sharing communication an easy and quick process.
Open And Frequent Communication
Communication is vital throughout this whole process. From the beginning talks of parents needing care, to siblings actually caring to discussions about moving into an aged care facility. Open, transparent, frequent and honest conversations (try to keep voices at normal pitch and calm) between every single party involved in this process is an approach advocated by psychologists and health practitioners the whole over.
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