CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Family disputes over elderly parents are more common when multiple children are interested and involved in caregiving. Siblings may be wondering how to protect the money of elderly parents from a financially dependent brother or sister. Relationship tensions may escalate if an adult child living with parents becomes overbearing or controlling. One sibling may be taking on the load and not receiving help. How do you juggle these responsibilities and tensions?
Aging expert Anthony Cirillo says there are potentially two kinds of situations that can develop. They are assistance with care and the potential abuse of loved ones by a sibling. When it comes to asking for assistance with care, Cirillo says be direct with requests for help. It's also a good idea to sit down and create a list of realistic tasks or objectives that your sibling can help with. Cirillo says keep everyone in the loop and if you're being ignored, seek other sources of help.
When it comes to family caregiving, Cirillo offers these warnings for potential signs of trouble. If one child takes over the caregiving role and leaves other family members in the dark, perhaps even limiting access to the elderly loved one, that's a red flag. Also be concerned if your sibling is acting as a gatekeeper and prevents you from reaching your parents, and you have reason to believe there may be abuse or exploitation involved. There are some telltale signs. Cirillo says to look for unexplained signs of injury; reports of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication; signs of being restrained, such as carpet-burn-looking marks on wrists; unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration; unsafe living conditions.
There is also the potential for financial abuse. Cirillo says try to make financial decisions and establish a budget in advance. Ask your parents how much money they’ve saved and if they’ve taken out a long-term care insurance policy. End-of-life conflicts can be avoided by writing a living will that specifies end-of-life wishes. Ask that they pre-designate a power of attorney, or durable power of attorney, to carry out these requests.
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