Sibling rivalry over care of elderly parent with dementia
I am dealing with a tricky situation with my siblings who are fighting over how to best care for our elderly mother, who probably has dementia on top of lifelong mental illness and learning issues. Sibling rivalry prevents any sort of cooperative communication and decision-making. The oldest sibling has been the primary caregiver, especially after our father (who took care of our mom) passed away. After a recent hospitalization, our mother moved in with the oldest sibling, which has been tough on both of them. My mother’s paranoia, anxiety and aggression escalated and she now wants to immediately move across the country to live with the youngest sibling, who is mentally ill and a chronic invalid who needs 24-7 caregiving. My mother designated the youngest sibling with Advance Medical Directive and Power of Attorney duties. My oldest sibling is refusing to let her go through with the move. The youngest sibling and their spouse are involving the police and possibly plan to go to court. I understand that my mother is lonely and misses her other children and she retains the right to make decisions. I want her to be safe and healthy wherever she lives. What could be done at this time? Thank you so much for any advice.
Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.
Obviously a tough situation. It's not clear from your post how many siblings are involved, what resources your mom has (like where else could she live, other than with one of these two siblings?), what your mom's medical issues and diagnoses are, who you are close with, and how you are able to help. Having some family experience with a version of this, the critical issues seem to be is your mother capable of making her own decisions. If yes, and she is deciding to live with youngest sibling, everyone else can be sad and worried about it but that's as far as it goes. If some number of her children feel like she is NOT capable of making her own decisions, is there a doctor who can or has confirmed it? Will mom go to the doctor for an assessment? Does anyone have power of attorney now? Could all the siblings agree to have a weekly call about Mom until matters resolve? Or just participating siblings with a standing invite to the holdout(s)?
SEEDS - https://www.seedscrc.org/ - is a great community conflict resolution service. I wonder if they might take your case? They are trained mediators who specialize in helping to resolve just this type of conflict, i.e. individual or small group conflicts between family members / friends / neighbors / community members / etc. where emotions are high and there is an underlying relationship that people would like to preserve and/or mend. I did a training with them last year and was impressed by their approach.
a conversation with you and your siblings to try to help you arrive at a resolution together.