Families face a wide range of difficult issues when their older loved ones faces declining physical health or dementia. There is incredible stress in the sandwich generation, those who are caring for their own families and their parents. Research suggests that the families that navigate these troubled waters best are those that have a plan in place ahead of time. A plan will help avoid some of the hot buttons or triggers that can send a family into a tailspin, and complicate the task of caregiving.
The goal of this written plan is to increase communication and create unity. A plan would also detail who provides the additional care. Typical choices include the team approach, outside assistance, or one of the sibs will be providing the majority of the caregiving.
This plan can help caregivers set healthy boundaries, and establish trigger points where a backup plan could be invoked, such as the involvement of professional residential caregivers at peak times.
Since the elephant in the room is money, address this head on. How will this be financed? Is there sufficient yolk in the nest egg? If the funds could be depleted soon, the plan would involve counselors to make sure you are aware of and taking advantage of the various options.
If there are still sufficient funds, this plan will detail how they are to be expended. You want to avoid one sibling looking at their inheritance dwindling while another wants the best plan of care available.
How will everyone feel included? While it’s common for one sibling to take the lead, and maybe even the responsibility for the bulk of the care, the other (and especially remote) siblings may wish to have an equal voice. A written plan should address this too.
So how do I do this you ask?
1. Involve a trusted advisor or third party, such as a Certified Life Care Planner, tax accountant, estate planner, lawyer, elder care provider, or someone you trust that has experience with helping familys develop a plan.
2. Take advantage of social media and new tools. Facebook, Twitter and ‘lotsahelpinghands’ can be very helpful in communicating who’s doing what, and when. Our BEAM system also enables a simple whiteboard for communication between “stakeholders”. Technology can also help collect and data on how the current plan is working, and provide the facts that can be used to adjust the plan where needed.
3. Read. There is a ton of stuff out there, so you can benefit from those who have gone before you.
Great articles you should check out:
Top Five Sibling Caregiver Hot Buttons
What to do if your siblings care more about getting an inheritance than giving your elderly mom or dad the quality care they need
Dealing with a parent’s care can rekindle sibling rivalries that have lain dormant for years
Caring for our elderly parents can turn us back into squabbling kids
You may be caring for an ill loved one, an aging parent, a child with special needs or a veteran. You may want to volunteer to help a friend or others in your neighborhood, how do you coordinate this?