A common dilemma that can come up for sibling who are working together to help their elderly parents:
My brother and I can’t agree on the best course of action to take with my dad who is 88. Dad has been having so many problems, the doctors say they can do a dramatic procedure which will hurt his quality of life but give him more years. I think quality of life is more important and don’t want the procedure done but my brother wants them to do it. How can we settle this?
I have often said that sibling issues are more difficult to resolve than the parent issues!
I suggest you and your brother sit down and very calmly and analytically look at the impact of each of the approaches. For example – as your Dad’s quality of life decreases, what will that mean for him? Will it mean more pain? Will it mean mobility difficulty – and to what extent? What kind of care will he require in the long term and how will that be accommodated?
Conversely, if he doesn’t have the procedure, what will that mean for him? Will the above issues still come into play but just in a more condensed time frame? The point of the conversation isn’t to puch either position but rather to calmly analyze what each course of action will mean for your father. Ideally, when the two lists are made, the decision will become clear.
By the way, has your father ever given any indication about what’s important to him? Have either of you sat down with him and asked what he wants and then really listened? And not just to his current situation but also to any comments he may have made in the past about his family and how he may have felt about what they went through? He may be reluctant to pick either solution for himself but very often those casual comments about other people speaks volumes.
My thoughts are with you whichever way you all decide to go.
And, finally, Paula reflects:
Barbara, I really like what you said about not trying to parent our parents. It’s so easy to fall into this trap – to think that we know so much more than they do and can make better decisions. Even though my parents are not as sharp as they used to be, they do still have wisdom and experience that I have not yet amassed. Thank you for bringing this up. I will try to remember it when I start trying to take over, be officious and usurp all the control – as I have certainly done before.
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