A lead caregiver of aging parents was going to extraordinary lengths to keep everything together only to find herself drowning in transactional quicksand. As her parents drifted into the land of “more and more care,” her uninvolved siblings either refused to acknowledge the burden (it’s not that bad) or preferred to keep their distance from the fray (I’m not comfortable having them move in with me). Even when the lead caregiver’s own family faltered with a sick husband and dysfunctional teens, it drew essentially zero empathy from the siblings. As a last resort, the caregiver attempted to plead her case. It fell flat, and that’s when she asked me for advice. Here is what I said:
“It sounds like you have reached a tipping point in terms of what you can offer your aging parents. Despite heroic efforts, their needs exceed your capacity. It a simple fact of the complexity of aging. We do the best we can do until we are not enough. Hopefully we don’t self-destruct before we figure that out. But once we do, it becomes clear things need to change. This insight may not be shared by your parents who would like things to continue as they are or your siblings who would prefer a hands off position. Trying to convince them you are drowning under the weight of “keeping everything together” is pointless. This is your epiphany and your responsibility to act to protect your sanity and your family. The pleading phase is over. The informing phase has begun.
Inform your parents and your siblings you have gone as far you can go. Your home is no longer an option. Your parents need to find a living environment that is designed and staffed to address their health issues now and in the future. You are willing to help the family select a senior living location and with the transition. If your siblings feel this is excessive and your parents don’t need this level of care, they are free to offer their home as an alternative.
This is not to suggest that the informing will be easy or without pushback coming in ample doses of guilt and anger. Hold a firm reign, stay calm and rational and things will shift away from you carrying the entire load. Don’t expect anyone to thank you or be thrilled with the new configuration. But as your stress level recedes, you can take comfort in the fact your parents needed more and you had the courage to insist on it.”