Regardless of whether your parents are approaching retirement age or they’ve already settled into their senior lifestyles, it’s important to come up with a plan for their future. In families with two or more children, this can take some negotiating as siblings work to share the tasks that come with caring for aging parents. More often than not, families that don’t prepare financially or logistically for caring for their aging parents end up being placed under a lot of stress. Not everybody has the time and resources to care for one or two additional people without a bit of foresight. For this reason, it’s important to talk with siblings and come up with a strategy regarding elderly parents.
Here are some things that your family should discuss when planning for your parents’ futures.
If the time comes when your parents become unable to live independently, you need to decide where they should live. If retirement communities are out of the question, you need to look at which sibling is best equipped to take in your parents.
Depending on your parents’ insurance plans, all of their medical expenses might not be covered by insurance. And if they don’t have a gap policy to help cover additional expenses, your parents could be stuck with pricey bills for things like therapy, in-home treatment, and medication. Discuss with your siblings how each of you can assist your aging parents financially and how each can contribute.
Taking in aging parents will dramatically increase your cost of living. Talk about this with your siblings and try to reach an agreement in which the sibling who takes in the parents receives financial assistance from the others.
Having one person take on all of the responsibilities that come with caring for aging parents is overwhelming, and it’s also unfair. In order to avoid tension and unnecessary stress, siblings need to work together to come up with a schedule or plan that delegates responsibilities evenly.
Nobody wants to get that phone call in the middle of the night saying that a parent is in the hospital, but it’s a likely scenario. Siblings should discuss how they’ll handle emergencies so that there are no surprises.
Parents often have different stories regarding their health depending on which sibling they’re talking to. They might tell one sibling that they slipped and fell last week while completely withholding that information from the others. If your parents tell you anything alarming about their mental or physical health, don’t assume that all the children know. Share the information.
Sometimes a sibling can’t play as big a role as a caregiver for legitimate reasons. He or she may have his or her own set of problems that gets in the way. Ask your siblings if they’re able to help and be understanding if something comes up. Each of the others may have to do a little extra work.
Taking care of aging parents isn’t easy, and for siblings, the added stress can be a strain on their relationships with one another. If things are starting to get tense, discuss the possibility of hiring a caregiver.
First and foremost, don’t participate in any power struggles over who’s going to have power of attorney or be the executor of the will. Ideally, your parents will have worked this out before they ever become incapacitated. This is an important discussion to have with them ahead of time.
While all of your siblings have your parents’ best interests in mind, you might have different ideas of how to meet their needs. Keep the lines of communication open and work together to come up with a plan that everyone agrees with.