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 an on-going discussion on how to divide and conquer: what is needed is agreement on a plan for care so that when the time comes, mom and dad will have the support they will need.
Decades ago, the task of caring for parents fell to the eldest daughter who likely lived in close proximity to her parents. Granted, while not a fair division of labor, at least it was understandable given the makeup of our society at that time. However, we now live all over the country and a women’s paycheck is likely an essential part of her family's finances so the question of who will care for mom or dad is not quite so clear. Nor can you overlook the fact that siblings with differing incomes and obligations may disagree over how best to pay for needed healthcare services.
Just because 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. The rifts that are created during this time can last a lifetime. As a law firm that daily deals with issues most seniors face, we're here to offer solutions. Please register online for a complimentary consultation; you will be very glad you did.
Reference: US News (July 13, 2016) “Dividing the Caregiving Responsibilities Between Siblings”