when siblings disagree about long term care

Caregiving requires a lot from a person and takes its toll on everything, including family relationships. No one knows this more than the siblings tasked with the care of Mom and Dad. From sibling rivalries to dividing tasks, caring for one’s parents with one’s siblings can be the perfect setting for tension, conflicts, and disagreements.  

So how can we deal with these instances? During a time when siblings ought to working together, how can we avoid conflicts from arising? Or better yet, how can we deal with the hostility and differences?  

Long Term Care in America

We hear the struggles that many individuals go through when faced with long term care needs. We read about debt-ridden, older individuals outliving their savings. We watch reports of elderly individuals silently suffering abuse in one-star nursing homes.

Yes, we are vehemently against these instances, but we have always had a somewhat detached view of these occurrences. This all changes when our parents end up needing the care.

The reality is that long term care in the country is dismal. Without a solid plan, individuals and their families are left to face the sky-high costs. While some families are more than capable of shouldering the prices, many are left to look for other means.

This is why industry experts urge families, especially aging parents, to secure long term care insurance. As highlighted in Long Term Care Planning Series: Wives and Mothers Need It Most, many individuals have found solace in long term care insurance because it removes the burden of caregiving from the shoulders of adult children. It reduces the conflicts among siblings.

Common Issues Among Siblings

Friction among siblings can be normal, but it can also be disruptive, especially if not handled right. In order to address these issues, we must be able to identify them first:

Financial Issues

Caregiving costs money—a lot of it. According to the study conducted by AARP, family caregivers spend an average of $6,954 annually—nearly 20% of their income— on out of pocket expenses. Ideally, siblings equally split the bill that comes with caring for Mom and Dad. But at times, our siblings just cannot pitch in to cover the costs, and it can be frustrating.

Time Constraints

Being catapulted into caregiving can easily cause discord and disarray among siblings. Different people have different schedules, and sometimes schedules will clash. We all know that caregiving demands time and a great deal of effort, and we might feel as though the bulk of the task falls on our laps.

Willingness to See Mom and Dad in “that State”

Although the situation may call for all hands on deck, some siblings are just not emotionally prepared for the task. Seeing a parent’s health deteriorating will take its toll on all children, but some are just not capable of handling and coping with the situation. This may then cause resentment from his or her siblings.

Finding Common Ground for Better Caregiving

Issues are common among siblings, but we must not let it get in the way of our parents’ care. It is easy to feel slighted when the situation appears to be unfair. However, bear in mind that this is the time to work together and rely on each other for support.

Honesty and objectivity will help immensely during tense situations. Be direct with requests for help and discuss issues with an open mind. We must always remember that caregiving for our parents requires teamwork. We work together to resolve issues. We do not tear each other down and use stress as an excuse.


Written by Samantha Stein
Samantha Stein is an Online Content Manager for ALTCP.org whose works focuses on long term care insurance, finance, elder care and retirement. Her choice to build a writing career on these fields is not merely out of the call of profession. Rather, she decided to pursue these subjects when she saw how being unprepared for long term care and retirement has greatly affected some of her loved ones.

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  1. I don’t think too highly of people who neglect their own Parents.

  2. My sibling didn’t offer one ounce of help for either my Mom or my Dad. Even after I broke my foot and had to have surgery. Then he told his friends that I would not allow his children to visit their grandparents AND he told everyone that would listen that my Dad, because of my “undue influence over the elderly” cut him out of his will, even though he was left over $150,000. I will never forgive the selfish jerk. I pray Karma kicks him squarely in the butt!

  3. Both my sister and I looked after our Mum till she passed.It was a journey that humbled us because we all found grace and how strong our love was.❤️

  4. Family no, community yes

  5. I can only say….yes

  6. My older brother abandoned us. He left me to care for my mentally ill parents.

  7. I never had that problem. My 6 siblings moved away, so I was left to take care of mom on my own. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  8. The relationship with my sister became strained when Mom came to live with me and my partner as the fallout with my sister was a result of money lent from my mom, and never paid back. The day mom died I could only communicate thru voicemail to my sister, and now she’s becoming an antagonist between my Dad and myself. The only way I can deal with this is totally detaching from her. It’s so sad…

  9. Always remember why you are doing it. I’m doing it and all for my mom, I will forever cherish the time I have with her. It tough, I’m lucky to have my sisters. Don’t get me wrong I have my moments, lots of them, it’s hard, I pray. Take breaks when you can. I work full time then care for my mom. Love her dearly!

  10. All easier said than done. People do what they want to do.

  11. 1) Siblings can help more. 2) Siblings’ spouses should keep their mouths shut.

  12. TOO LATE FOR MY FAMILY !!!! I no longer speak to any of my sisters AT ALL !!!! After 8 years of having given up my job, my life completely to caretake for my parents 24/7, I’m done !!!! Moving out in spring/summer !!! I have been treated like TOTAL DIRT from them and my Dad has played them against me. NOTHING I ever did was ever good enough for my snobby sisters’ “standards” !!!. IT’S A HORRENDOUS situation !!!! I HAVE to let go and get the hell out of dodge, for the sake of my sanity !!!!


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