31 March, 2023

As your parent reaches old age, siblings may disagree on what’s best for the parent regarding important decisions and caretaking responsibilities.

Siblings may have different opinions on matters such as the level of care and support needed for your parent, where the parent should live, and everyone’s roles and level of involvement.

In this blog post, we offer some tips to resolve the family dispute concerning your ageing parent.


Prioritise your elderly parent’s wellbeing

When a discussion turns into an argument, it’s easy to lose focus of the priority: your ageing parent. Though it feels difficult, you may have to set aside any differences to reach an agreement that is best for your parent.

Don’t forget to consider the input of your parent. Your parent is getting older, but they still have goals. Have an open discussion with them about these goals, which may include:

  • Downsizing to a smaller home.
  • Relocating to be closer to family.
  • Prioritising their health and fitness.
  • Being independent for as long as possible.
  • Socialising or getting involved in the community.

Consider both the wants and needs of your parent in your discussions with your siblings.


Try to understand each other’s perspectives

Sometimes, sibling roles and responsibilities involving your parent may not feel balanced. Putting yourself in the shoes of your sibling may help you to understand their perspective.

Different circumstances may contribute to your differentiating opinions in the matter, including:

  • Their own mental health.
  • How near or far they live.
  • Their career and career goals.
  • Their relationship with the parent.
  • Their own children and family priorities.
  • time that can be devoted to looking after your parent.

If you or your sibling are not able to devote time and resources into looking after your elderly parent, for example, then you may have to consider other options.


Review all of your options and get an expert assessment

Your siblings should narrow the discussion down to what your options realistically are. Agree on attainable options after reviewing the following areas:

  • finances.
  • personal preferences.
  • level of care and support needed.

Whether you are arguing about finances, making important decisions, or caretaking responsibilities, we recommend consulting professionals. Depending on what the dispute concerns, a general practitioner or a financial counsellor would be most fit to guide your decision.


Look out for signs of elder abuse

In the instance of family disputes concerning an ageing parent, your parent may become more vulnerable to elder abuse – whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Adult children are the most common perpetrators of elder abuse. While there’s no excuse for abuse, the perpetrator may not intend to cause harm or even realise they are doing so.

As you and your siblings argue over what is best for your elderly parent, look out for signs of elder abuse including:

  • lack of health essentials such as medication or hearing aids.
  • apprehension or anxiety about a specific person.
  • lack of control over their own finances.
  • withdrawal and changes in confidence.
  • symptoms of depression or anxiety.
  • missing money, assets, or mail.

Read more about elder abuse, its signs, and what you can do to get help here.


Consider a mediator

Family disputes can become emotional and may involve complicated relationships, generational trauma, and other complex intricacies. Such arguments can damage relationships and may harm the older person concerned rather than help them.

Getting a mediator involved can help your family explore your options in a safe way. Discussions will be professionally guided. Mediation can help resolve conflict and make a roadmap for moving forward.

Learn more about how to access senior relationships mediation in Queensland and what to expect here.


If you need help resolving a conflict concerning an older person, our experienced counsellors are here to help. We can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment that priotises the older person’s wellbeing.

You can learn more about our Senior Relationship Mediation Service here, or call 1300 063 232.


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