Home Health Care News

The 50-50 Rule: Real-Life Situations

These real-life family stories are followed by idea and resources for ways to handle the situations before they damage sibling relationships. Each is backed by research conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network in the U.S. and Canada. Responses were developed in cooperation with Ingrid Connidis, Ph.D., sibling relationships expert from the University of Western Ontario.

Money Matters

The slow economy has taken a toll on many families, straining finances and relationships. Do you and your siblings disagree on how to approach money matters when it comes to family caregiving situations? If so, consider the following real-life family solutions. Research shows that the inability to work together in important areas such as money can lead to a deterioration of sibling relationships.

Payment Overdue

You and your brother have just discovered a pile of overdue bills, spoiled food in the refrigerator and magazines stacked ceiling high at your parents’ house. Your brother loses his cool and practically demands that they move to a nursing home. Your parents are visibly upset. You want the continued help and support of your brother. What do you do?

Approach your parents and brother with a sense of working together to find a solution rather than telling them what to do. Is the problem that your parents don’t have the money? Or are they just unable to manage the bill-paying anymore? Speak to your parents about the issues that are relevant to avoid family conflict.

After accessing the situation, talk with your brother and suggest what seems like a reasonable course of action to you. Be sure to ask his opinion as well. One solution is to set your parents up on automatic bill-paying through their bank or take over payment of their bills. If you and your brother disagree, try to find a compromise. Offer the help you deem appropriate to your parents. A united front is the ideal course of action, unless you and your brother feel it would be best if you spoke to Mom and Dad on your own. Both you and your parents will benefit by keeping your brother engaged in the process in a positive way.

Do what you can to maintain a relationship with your brother. Siblings are sometimes the only family relationships that endure. Friendships from our early lives often don’t last. So there is a depth of empathy we can tap into that goes back to that childhood relationship. That sibling relationship will continue after your parents are gone. Research suggests that siblings don’t want to harm their relationships with each other.

Recession Bust

The economy has taken its toll on your parents’ retirement nest egg, which they worked so hard to build. You and your four siblings are doing well financially, but no one is stepping up to the plate to help Mom and Dad. What’s the solution?

Initially, this calls for a conversation between yourself and your parents. Awareness of your parents’ financial situation is critical. Parents can feel like they are giving up their independence and privacy is they discuss that information. In terms of harmony among siblings, it’s better if everyone has the same information.

You could discuss an agreement where you will help your parents out financially now, on the understanding that they will pay you back through your inheritance. If they agree, you could share your agreement with your siblings so that they know in advance. They could be invited to be part of the agreement as well. Seek the advice of a professional like a lawyer or financial advisor about how best to make this financial arrangement.

Remind your siblings of the impact that the current economic situation has had on seniors like your parents. Older U.S. adults have lost almost one quarter of their buying power since 2000, according to the Annual Survey of Senior Costs released in 2010 by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a senior advocacy group.

In Canada, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, the share of insolvent consumers for people 55 and up has more than quadrupled in the past decade, hitting 20.6% last year. This was the steepest increase for all age groups. The office compiled the findings based on annual numbers between 1989 and 2009.

If your siblings understand, they may get a better grasp of what your family is facing and be more willing to pitch in to help.

Home Instead Senior Care is an in-home health care provider located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina serving individuals and families in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area for over 11 years! We offer assistance to those in need for companionship, home help, personal care, short-term recovery, Alzheimer’s care, Respite care and many other services to make your life easier.

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