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What to do When Siblings Can’t Agree on a Parent’s Care Needs

One of the biggest challenges of aging is having to make choices on your parents’ behalf. The reality is older adults sometimes require assisted living and the decision is often placed in the hands of their adult children. This can be a very stressful time as it is difficult to see the people who raised you needing assistance themselves. However, it’s important to remember that seeking the right care for a loved one is something they will benefit from greatly in the long run.

When choosing senior living options, there is a lot to consider. Families have to agree on a care provider, consider the monthly or annual cost and a location that is accessible to loved ones. These are a lot of big choices to make and naturally, disagreements are bound to pop up when such big changes are involved.

Here are some tips to help avoid disagreements during this delicate time.

Start preparing now

It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s one to have sooner rather than later. The more organized and prepared you are, there is less opportunity for friction. Start having the care conversation with your parents and siblings as soon as possible, so everyone is on the same page. Your parent(s) will be able to communicate a reasonable budget and their preferences, so when it comes time to look into care, you’ll already know the next steps to take.

Agree on a budget

Money is one of the biggest pain points for siblings and parents. You want the best for your parent, but you also have to be pragmatic and think long term. Setting a firm budget from the beginning will keep the decision making efficient and help cut down on money-related disputes. Do research on costs and the specific kind of care your parent needs. To further ease tension, choose a few items to allow for wiggle room within the budget.

Clearly identify responsibilities

A lot of sibling rifts happen because one person feels they are doing more for their parent than the other. In fact, in 43 percent of American families, one child is responsible for all or almost all a parent’s care. This can happen when siblings live out of town, travel often, or have their own health challenges. Tension can surface when one sibling feels like they are carrying a heavier load than the other. To create the best support system, siblings should discuss what role each person can play based on their strengths and develop a plan. Reevaluate the plan periodically to make sure it’s effective. Siblings should stick with their assigned caregiver roles and call a meeting if stress is getting the best of a family member.

Look into a geriatric care manager

If this is new territory for everyone, a geriatric care manager could be beneficial as you make decisions. This is an expert assigned to providing you the resources and information needed to develop the best care plan for your parent. They are typically a social worker or nurse who provides not only medical expertise, but an unbiased view toward your situation as well.

Seek elder care mediation

Sometimes disagreements need to be resolved through outside help, which is what eldercare mediators are here for. Unlike a geriatric care manager, mediators are more involved with the family’s emotional situation and it’s their job to help the family negotiate disputes as a neutral third party.

Remember that your top priority is your parents’ health

During sibling disputes, things can get personal. What you need to remember, however, is the decision is not about you, it’s about your parent. This will be a place where your parent will spend the rest of their life, so it’s key they are comfortable and happy. Think about the disagreement compared to the big picture: your parent’s happiness.

Living Options at Clark

Clark offers a variety of living options, depending on the level of independence that’s right for your loved one. Each option includes access to Clark’s amenities and daily life enrichment activities. Our senior living advisors can provide additional details, following is a brief overview of our options:

  • Assisted Living provides residents a homelike environment and the opportunity to remain as independent as possible while accessing necessary support services. Personal care, medication management, and meals prepared by our executive chef are all included.
  • Assisted Living with Memory Care is offered in a safe and secure environment that includes plenty of helpful and comforting memory cues. Your loved one will also benefit from our innovative programming, including music therapy and our Montessori for Aging and Dementia Program, led by experienced and specially certified professionals.
  • Enhanced Living has the option of adding on certain a la carte services to meet your loved one’s needs. These additional services can include medication reminders, housekeeping, or laundry services.

Learn More

It’s important to us that each resident has an experience unique to their needs and interests, as well as a stress-free environment for the family. We partner with families in planning the care your loved one receives and focus on empowering your loved one to maintain as much of their independence as possible while being available 24/7 to lend them a helping hand when it’s needed. Ultimately, this means your loved one has the space to thrive, and you can worry less knowing supportive care surrounds them. If you think your loved one could benefit from Clark, contact our senior living advisors at or 616-278-6520 to learn more about our living options at our

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