Filial Piety, also known as The Paralytic, is a 1763 oil painting by French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze. It depicts an aged, paralyzed man surrounded and cared for by his loving family and is part of a larger series on family morals. The painting’s message: A good family cares for their aging parents.

All of Marlene’s children live within an hour of her Michigan home, yet Sheila, who lives the closest and is the only daughter, ended up in charge of most of the work. When Sheila, who requested that her last name not be used, told her brothers that their mom wasn’t showering, for example, her younger brother said that he and his wife had noticed she smelled the last time they visited — but “they didn’t ask if I needed any help, or assist mom,” Sheila says. “They just went about their lives.”

Collaboration between siblings is vital when caring for an aging parent — and that can present a challenge for even the most solid of sibling relationships.

Even when there isn’t a pandemic, siblings may face numerous stumbling blocks when looking after an aging parent, from unequal division of caregiving tasks, to different perceptions of the parent’s needs, to denial over the parent’s condition. Old wounds and rivalries may reemerge, leading to arguments and resentments that affect care decisions.

Read more in Knowable Magazine.

Written by External Article
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