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Published December 10, 2011, 11:30 PM

Bradley Bursack: Siblings often disagree on what’s best for parents

Dear Carol: My sister and I have co-power of attorney responsibilities for our parents. I live near my folks and have been the hands-on caregiver for several years. My sister lives 300 miles away but comes home every few weeks. For the most part, I have taken care of anything related to healthcare and my sister dealt with the financial issues.

By: Carol Bradley Bursack, INFORUM

Dear Carol: My sister and I have co-power of attorney responsibilities for our parents. I live near my folks and have been the hands-on caregiver for several years. My sister lives 300 miles away but comes home every few weeks. For the most part, I have taken care of anything related to healthcare and my sister dealt with the financial issues.

Our parents are doing quite well with this arrangement, though they need increased assistance if they are to stay in their home, which they say they want to do. My sister doesn’t think this is safe and has been pushing for an assisted living facility.

She and I have always gotten along, but this is causing stress and some dissention. She is concerned that increased in-home care will cost more than assisted living. I hate taking sides. I agree with my parents but my sister makes some good points. –Cindy

Dear Cindy: While a few hours of in-home care will cost less than assisted living, the cost of in-home care 24/7 will likely exceed assisted living costs. Also, assisted living would give your parents social options which remaining in their home may not. It all depends on how much care they need and how they spend their time.

If they have a social life and can manage well with your help and some in-home care, that may be a good temporary option. If they rarely do anything with their peers and basically vegetate, they may do better getting involved with the activities in a good assisted living center. Another thing to consider is their home’s floor plan. Can they stay there if there is an emergency and they can’t climb stairs? Can they safely use the bathroom? Bathe?

Maybe you and your family can compromise for awhile. You can hire in-home care for more hours while you all tour assisted living facilities together. See if any of your parents’ friends live in assisted living nearby. If so, that can be a huge draw for your parents.

Your parents will likely complain if the decision is to move, but many people love the safety and the activity of assisted living once they get over the mindset that their home is the only acceptable option.

Others prefer to hire more in-home care and have alterations made to their home so they can continue to live there. Communication and flexible, non-competitive attitudes will take you a long way. It’s never easy, but since you don’t have an emergency you have time to take small steps. By doing that, you should come up with a workable solution.


Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.

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