By far, my brother is one of the most influential people in my life; I simply adore him. But, like most siblings, we have run the gambit from buds to arch enemies and everything in between. Growing up, we would fight over who got to choose the television channel (with only one tv in the house), which of us would get the last piece of cake, and the list goes on and on. Invariably, Mom or Dad would figure out how to resolve what was often a daily conflict, and all would be right with the world. What happens when parents become ill and in need of care, and siblings don't agree? Given that many if not most older Americans (about 66%) do not have so much as discussed their end of life care wishes and plans with their families, more often than not, the children are clueless; would they want to place in a nursing home, remain in place or live with an adult child? What happens when mom or dad can no longer make their own decisions nor mediate sibling conflict? Here are five tips to help:
Carefully and calmly listen to each point of view
Don't assert that you are emotionally closer to your parents, thus giving you a better ability to know what their wishes would be.
Don't assume birth order determines the level of decision-making authority.
Remember that a rift between siblings only serves to add stress to your parents
Most importantly - remember your relationship with your sibling will likely far outlast your parent's illness- Don't jeopardize it!