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Silent Siblings

Silent siblings

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You and your siblings haven't been on speaking terms for years, but Mom and Dad now need help. How do you get the ball rolling?

It might help you to have a more thorough grasp of your parent's situation. If time allows, spend a few days with your mom and dad, and try to develop a better understanding of what's going on. Talk with your parents face-to-face. Tell them you just want to help and ask them to be honest with you about their needs.

Talk to their doctors, which you can do from a distance if you are not able to visit. Make a list of all of your concerns and share them with your parents' medical professionals. Also discuss the situation with any close friends who might have knowledge of your parents' health issues and living arrangements.

Sometimes, if one parent is healthy enough, that person may still be calling the shots about care for the couple. If your dad is the primary caregiver, try to engage him in conversation. Ask him what would be helpful to him. Sometimes the primary caregiver just needs emotional support.

You may find that unequal involvement among your siblings has to do with a parent. If a parent is contacting some of his children and not others, and gets along better with those siblings, then that situation will affect the big picture. Sometimes involving a third party is quite helpful in emotionally charged situations. A geriatric care manager, for instance, has seen these issues multiple times and can let families know that their situation is not unique.

When you have a clear understanding of the situation, schedule a meeting or telephone conference with your siblings. Discuss with them the importance of putting aside differences for the care of your parents. Go through all the information you've found and ask for input. If not all siblings will participate, try to make a connection with those who will.

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

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Last revised: December 29, 2010

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