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Denial a Common Emotion for Family Caregivers

It's important to talk with your parents and siblings as soon as possible about care for a senior loved one.

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Caring for aging parents can put siblings at odds. Check out these tips about communicating with family members. And go to and to learn more.

Q. My siblings seem to be in some kind of denial and refuse to discuss the fact that our parents, who are both approaching 80, need more help at home. Is this common and what can I do?

What you and your siblings are experiencing is very common. In a Harris Interactive® poll conducted for the Home Instead® network, nearly half (46 percent) of people surveyed who expect to eventually be caring for an elderly loved one had not taken any action to plan for this care. In addition, 70 percent had not spoken with the parent or relative they anticipate needing to care for about what their wishes might be.

And a whopping 76 percent had not discussed the issue of caring for elderly relatives with other family members. Denial seems to be a prevailing emotion when it comes to the care of senior loved ones. But refusing to address the issue won't prevent the unexpected from happening. That's why it's important to talk with your parents and siblings as soon as possible and plan for the future.

If your parents are of sound mind, ask them what they would want to do if the time comes for them to need special care in their lives. Ask specific questions such as: "If you fell and were injured, where would you want to go to rehabilitate?" If the answer is "home," which is where most seniors prefer to be, then look into the types of services that can help your loved ones remain where they live. Discuss whether your parents would benefit from these services now. Many home health care companies are available in communities of all sizes to provide medical caregivers at home.

Oftentimes, a non-medical caregiver also is well-equipped to help seniors at home. For example, Home Instead now has more than 900 offices throughout the world. A Home Instead CAREGiverSM is trained to assist elderly individuals by providing companionship and medication reminders, and help with meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping.

If you're in a smaller community, check into the services that are available through your church or Area Agency on Aging.

The important first step is to plan a family meeting with your parents and siblings. Try to arrange one as soon as possible.

Please download the guide: 50-50 Rule® Brochure (PDF 950K).

Last revised: July 15, 2011

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