With Americans living longer, many Baby Boomers now find themselves giving financial and emotional support to their aging parents. An important part of this process is discussing living and end-of-life plans to determine who will take care of mom and dad. Siblings need to discuss expectations with each other, says US News in “Dividing the Caregiving Responsibilities Between Siblings.”
Decades ago, the task of caring for parents fell to the eldest daughter. Now, with families living all over the country and women’s paychecks a necessary part of family incomes, the answers are not as clear. Plus, siblings with differing incomes and obligations may also disagree over how to pay for care and health services for the parents.
There’s no rule that says responsibilities have to be divided equally. The fact that a sibling lives in a different time zone doesn't mean he or she can't pitch in. In many instances, siblings out of the area can call regularly to check in on a parent, pay their bills online, hire help or visit to relieve the local caregiver.
Here are some ideas for dividing the caregiving duties among siblings.
- Don’t wait until the ride home from an emergency room visit. Talk about the options when everyone is calm and healthy, including your parents so they can be a part of the conversation as well. When there’s an agreement on responsibilities, write it down.
- If you're factoring in Medicaid coverage for your parents, talk with a Medicaid or elder law attorney in your parents’ state.
- Match up your parents' needs with your siblings' abilities and find the best fit based on their strengths, aptitudes and willingness to help.
- Don’t be afraid to get some outside help if you and your siblings can't provide all the help your parents need.
Caregiving can be terribly stressful, so communicate early and often with your brothers and sisters to avoid some of the headaches.
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Reference: US News (July 13, 2016) “Dividing the Caregiving Responsibilities Between Siblings”