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Ahh…brothers and sisters…

Your siblings were probably your first friends and playmates.

You played tricks on each other–and goodness knows what else!

You shared secrets…and most likely…fights.

Whether you are close to them, indifferent, or not in touch with them at all as adults, you may still have one major shared responsibility: the care of your elderly parents.

So the question is: Who takes care of mom?

When confronted with this question, the role of family dynamics will play a role in how it’s answered.

One thing to consider is how well did each sibling get along with mom to begin with?

We all know mom has her favorite child…even if she claimed to love you all the same. Consider how much birth order will play a part in decision-making, as well as any cultural traditions your family may have.

For example, in some cultures, caring for mom typically falls to the oldest daughter; and in others, to the oldest son.

The oldest might consider themselves the most responsible and therefore see the role of caretaker as their responsibility.

The middle child may think themselves as the best fit because they were always the peacemaker in the family and would take on the role in order to avoid conflicts.

The youngest, often considered to have been spoiled and most favored by mom or dad, can either be overlooked for, or even overwhelmed by the responsibility.

So, how do we navigate this mine field to determine what would be the best situation for mom?

A few things to consider with your siblings:

1. Strengths and Weaknesses: When the time comes to gather your siblings together for the conversation on mom’s care, make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and from that list try to divvy up some of the responsibilities. For instance, one sibling may be better with numbers and can handle the financial responsibilities; but another sibling may be better with daily details and can run errands and attend doctor’s appointments.

2. Logistics: Not all family members live close to each other. If a sibling is out of state, come to some agreement as to how they are going to participate in the decision-making. Maybe they come-in to care for mom so that the the primary caregiver can take a break for a week every now and then.

3. Financials: This can be a very touchy subject for siblings…and mom too. Don’t avoid it! You need to talk about what’s going on financially so that everyone is on the same page. What assets does mom have? Is it enough to pay for her care? If not, are the siblings willing to chip in to get mom the care she needs? If not, how will it be paid for?

We hope these tips help…or at least inspire a family conversation! In the end, it will all come down to your specific family dynamics and how best to make the most responsible choices for mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Your Senior Partners