Siblings who suddenly find themselves in the ‘carer’ role
Very sadly, Father passed. He was in hospital after a nasty fall and only survived for a few days after. The doctors say that Mother has dementia – all the signs are there, and she doesn’t seem to understand that Father’s not coming home.
The son thinks the most sensible thing is to move her to a flat that’s closer to him. She can look after herself more easily there.
The daughter is currently visiting her twice a day in the big house but can’t keep it up because of work. She thinks mother needs residential care in a special dementia care home.
When siblings disagree on what to do with a parent, it can become very personal. A ‘He said, she said...’ scenario and before you know it, they’re no longer discussing a solution, they’re just falling out. And it’s very stressful.
I say it would be time to shine lots of love and kindness on a scenario like this because, for everyone, it is a difficult situation to face.
The son is doing his best and thinks mother living in a flat is the best solution. He hasn’t thought about ‘care’ and currently thinks she’ll be able to cope. There’s no anticipation of having to visit frequently.
The daughter is doing her best, she ‘knows’ mother won’t be able to cope if she lives alone and foresees being left to do it all the work!
What’s the solution?
If only the son could express his anxiety about costs, and accept the reality of dementia, a sensible conversation could take place. But, also, if the daughter could express her fear of being stuck with the responsibility of looking after mother, shopping, getting her up, companionship, a sensible conversation could take place.
It’s got to start from a point of agreement, and they do agree; they want to do what right for their mother.
It’s so much better – and easier - to have these conversations ahead of time so there’s a known plan e.g. if mother’s left on her own we’ll do this. And it’s so important that you find an opportunity to say what you need to say; that you find your voice.
What to do if you find yourself in this situation?
Caring for an elderly person takes more than making sure there’s food in the house; although that helps. Many a granny flat has been built and grandma installed only for the complaint to be that she won’t stay there. So, what’s the best solution?
I met with a few of them last week and they can do whatever is needed. Visit once, twice, 3 or 4 times a day. They can move in (called live-in care), they can lock the house in the evening or provide help with preparing lunch, get someone up and put them to bed. Some of them even offer companionship outings. They know all about helping people who don’t initially want it, and they’re only too pleased to advise you.
But, above all else, remember to be gentle with each other, mindful that it’s a difficult time all round. For everyone involved, a little kindness goes a long, long way.
If you're facing a situation like this and need some support to find a solution with family members or help to cope with the very stressful situation you’ve suddenly found yourself in, then please do get in touch to see how I can help.
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