5 Ways to Manage End-of-Life Care When you are Far Away

(This article will discuss when an elder in end-of-life care, usually ailing is near one caregiver and others are further away. Some of the suggestions/ideas apply to other situations, but we will separately explore the challenge of being an only child, taking your elders with you away from other siblings, when all the siblings are far away and how to maintain relationships in that event, and general eldercare as elders age as opposed to having a terminal illness. This also assumes a caring family, where siblings intend to continue a positive relationship after the decline of elders and parents were caring of their children. If you have experience with any of the situations we’re looking at examining in the future, I certainly welcome your input and experience! This is the first in a series on Eldercare, but the third in our series on Returning Home (Check out posts one and two here!))

How often do your siblings scold you when you go home for never being around, for missing important #family events, and essentially accuse you of being selfish? When you visit family, do you find yourself falling into the same stereotypical roles you did as kids? Do you find yourself applying rules and actions you no longer do in the rest of your life? I know I do!

Now add a stressor – a terminally ill family member. Supporting an ailing family member can be a heavy burden. Luckily, it’s also often a shared burden among siblings. Unfortunately, the stress of an ailing family member can exacerbate existing family dynamics. Old sibling rivalries, old templates (yours and theirs) come to the surface. Using the assumptions of old family dynamics is rarely healthy. It is particularly challenging to adapt to a new family dynamic with the people who were historically giving care becoming those who need it and vice versa. The sibling rivalries are bound to be challenged with a new family dynamic. Taking time to reflect on what those dynamics are and how to manage those in a stressful situation can help to alleviate some of the tension.

Siblings often have unvoiced assumptions about their position in the family. Parents might also choose to make their decisions or intentions known, complicating dynamics. Because terminal illness evolves, not all can be foreseen. Therefore, hard decisions like financial and medical, will have to be made by people other than the elder. How we make them and engage with our siblings is critical to the long-term health of our familial relationships.