Once upon a time, a parent died leaving the other elderly parent still living. Immediately, the three children of the family began to quarrel and fight over what should be done with that parent.
Could that be your brother? Or your older sister? Or your two older sisters against you? Oh yes, friends, you’d be amazed what warring siblings can to each other over an elderly parent. Over who owns that parent in the final months of years of life.
Clearly it’s not about love, not even love of the parent, since everyone knows you don’t actually demonstrate love by kidnapping someone.
I’ve seen and heard firsthand about these family issues of struggle. Although it may be presented as a fight for the right care for an elder, in reality it hardly ever is. It is about who wins. And it’s never the parent.
In fact, I can’t even imagine what a parent goes through whose children are bitterly fighting. The ones I’ve seen have been totally exhausted, as if with the failure of the family they made.
If it were about good parental care, then clearly the family members would all have a family meeting together to figure out the best for their parent.
If it means anything in all this, the most usual scenario is for one sibling to remove the parent from the in-home care being given, or being offered, by another sibling. Typically, the victor then removes the parent and sends them off to assisted living care. They never seem to be fighting to take their parent home.
It always looks as if it is something to do with the the willingness of one family member to give that at-home caregiving, while the other sibling has no intention of doing that. Could it really be that a sibling would rather sabotage that care relationship? Who knows? When it comes to families, outsiders seldom know the whole truth of motivation.
Now, if this is happening or has happened on your family, what can you do to assert your will?
You can call in Adult Protective Services. They will investigate accusations of abuse or neglect of the parent. If this fails to achieve the change you want, you can hire a lawyer. You can get advice on that from an elder law specialist, some of whom give good free advice.
However, it has to be said that the law and Adult Protective Services do not usually take the view that it is abusive to remove the parent from the home into assisted living. Even against that parent’s wishes. The usual scenario in these cases is that the parent has at least mild cognitive impairment.
This does not remove their legal right to be heard. However, a parent with mild dementia is probably in no position to actually establish the care they want. They have opinions but not abilities.
Can you fight your own siblings for care of a parent? Legally, yes. However, the one with the most money usually wins.
If you are not allowed to care for your parent, it’s not all over. Your parent will continue to need and appreciate your love and attention. Even in dementia, when a parent may not cognitively remember you coming, nevertheless the love you give is not lost. It is absorbed and it does make a difference.
So you never lose the importance of the love you give to your parent. Sometimes it’s the most you get to do. And it’s the greatest gift you can give, under any circumstance.