Sibling Rivalry and Senior Care: Making Decisions Amidst Tensions

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 04 June 2012

You and your brother never got along as children. Now that you are adults with children of your own, you have gone your separate ways and there is no need to interact — except on holidays, or until a parent needs care.

Difficult family dynamics and strained relationships, particularly among siblings, can quickly muddy the waters when decisions must be made about senior care. Differences of opinion, old quarrels and unresolved hurts bubble to the surface. The situation is often further intensified by the emotions accompanying the need for change: maybe Mom has Alzheimer’s, or Dad has COPD, or Mom and Dad are both in poor health and can no longer live on their own. Whatever the scenario, each family member will deal with their emotions about their parents’ declining health differently, therefore each will have his or her own opinions about what is the best next step. Home care? A senior housing community that offers specialized Alzheimer’s care?

Though having more options besides just nursing home care is generally a positive thing, it may further drive a wedge among family members who disagree, splintering the family unit and making consensus nearly impossible.

Read these posts When Siblings Disagree About a Senior Living Transition and Respect & Sensitivity Necessary in Making a Senior Care Decision for insights on making a decision that has the parent’s best interests (and not spiting your sister) at heart.


There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. Marsha says,

    I wish someone would have told me this in 1996 – when my sister turned my mother into a ward of the state – just to save her inheritance. The Guardianship nightmare – I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemies! My mother suffered with emotional abuse and pharmacutical restrants from her assistance home because they had NO DEMENTIA TRAINING – when she was originally at home with a 24-hour nurse and much happier. My sister took all that away because of sibling rivalry, and were will never speak again. The only thing I miss is my nephews. Thank you for writing this and I wish there was more research.


    on 05 June 2012 / 6:34 PM

  2. Marsha, there are no words. I’m so sorry that your family had to go through such a horrendous experience. There are likely many others who have gone through similarly terrible situations and I don’t think people realize how common these scenarios are. You’re welcome. I wish there was more research and support to. I hope raising more awareness of the subject will get the issue the attention it needs.


    on 06 June 2012 / 9:57 AM


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