Talking To Siblings About A Parent’s Care Needs
It’s common to have anxieties as families begin to explore home care options for their parents. Talking with your siblings and loved ones about the need for care is important but can also bring up a lot of emotions as this is a highly sensitive topic. Addressing these challenges in a calm, informed and empathetic way will help make the transition and ongoing discussions easier for everyone involved.
Here are a few recommendations we suggest:
1: Avoid blindsiding your sibling(s) by being clear and upfront about the topic you wish to discuss.
- Schedule a day and time to meet, preferably in person, as the non-verbal communication that takes place is an important aspect. Therefore, trying to make these decisions via phone, email or text is not recommended. Also, be mindful of the location. Pick a place where you can have privacy but also is not threatening or triggering.
2: As you prepare for the meeting, gather documentation that you feel will help support your reason for your parents need and plan for care.
- You do not want this conversation to turn into an argument, so being prepared with clear evidence and in a ‘matter-of-fact’ way can help the conversation from turning purely emotional.
3: When you meet, try to find common ground with your sibling(s).
- Is there something you can agree on? Of course there is: you love and care for your parent(s). Therefore, having this discussion should be set up in a way that you are all on the same team effort, not a battle.
- Diffuse defensiveness by using “I statements.” Clearly explain the situation from your perspective and without ‘pointing fingers’ and placing blame on others. If you notice yourself starting a sentence with “You said” or “You did/didn’t,” then take a moment to pause and rephrase your thought with as “I statement.” For example “I feel” or “I need.”
- Be respectful, open minded, and repeat back what you hear the other person saying for clarifying purposes and also to show your attentiveness. How we present our thoughts and feelings makes a difference in the direction and effectiveness of a conversation.
4: There should be a goal for the meeting that is clearly stated. This way concrete accomplishments are set and worked on and everyone has a clear understanding of next steps.
- Assigning specific tasks and goals and setting dates to accomplish needs will help to keep things progressing in a positive direction and provide some purpose and feelings of achievement for everyone involved. Often an important conversation is started and then left without further discussion or action. Keep the momentum going and be proactive and goal oriented as much as possible.
5: Remember that each family, each situation, and each family dynamic are unique. You’ll need to do what’s right for your family.
- The amount of involvement your parent will/should have in the decision on their care should also be considered.
- It’s normal to seek help and support in all healthy functioning relationships, so as much as becoming vulnerable and admitting help is needed can be difficult, it can also be so relieving and fulfilling to commit to this approach.
6: Finally, be mindful of any specific family dynamics that might attempt to play out in an unhealthy way. Avoid falling into childhood roles and holding on to grudges.
- Approached these conversations from the perspective that you are all on the same side, even when you don’t feel like it, you are all striving towards the common goal of the best possible care for your loved one(s).
The sooner you start these conversations, the sooner you can make a decision and begin getting get the help you and your loved one deserve. If you need a place to turn for suggestions, call the team at Caregiver To You; we’re ready to help.