Holiday Stress – Aging Parents and Sibling Issues

Holiday Stress – Aging Parents and Sibling Issues

It’s the holiday season when all is supposed to be “merry and bright.”  “Peace on Earth” is not always the case in families with aging parents and children who disagree with one another about their parent’s needs, who should make decisions and when they should be made, among other matters.  Here in Florida many families have some children who live out of state.  They visit for the holidays and issues surface.  They may disagree and/or question diagnoses, action plans, caregiving, parents driving, and management of finances, among others.

 

Communication among family members is key.  Communication all year long enables all siblings to be involved to the extent they are interested.  Siblings can participate from afar by conducting research on issues and situations so that decisions can be made jointly before critical decisions arise – or at worst – have some information ready for a critical decisions that comes before its expected.

 

The sibling “in charge” usually lives nearby and carries the lion’s share of the burden.  They have often put their life on hold to meet their parent’s needs – both every day and when emergencies occur.

 

What can the siblings do to make the holiday season the best it can be?  The sibling “in charge” needs a much-needed break.  To provide this break, what the family might want to consider is that – well in advance of the holiday – one of the family members sends out an email composed of two parts to all siblings.  Part one would identify each and every task they did for the past year and thank them profusely for doing them.  The list could be compiled with the help of the sibling “in charge” as they are likely to know because their burden was lifted.  Part two would be a list of things that each sibling could do while visiting.  Some tasks could include re-stocking groceries, personal care items, clothing; simple home repairs; cooking special dishes; paying bills, reviewing bank statements and IRA distributions; identifying care options, possibly assisted living options for the future. Be creative.

 

This effort will bring all the siblings together for the good of the family and will generate much goodwill.  It will create an upbeat and positive atmosphere where important conversations can take place about what needs to be done in the new year and the best ways to do it.  This will give the parents and children a very special holiday to remember.

 

Happy Holidays to all.