When Adult Step-Siblings Downsize Aging Parents

Jul 24, 2014   //   by Eleanor Keller   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

We all know someone who has been through downsizing trauma with elderly parents and siblings. The sheer physical stress of the de-cluttering, downsizing and moving process can bring even the strongest person to their knees.

When you add the emotional stress to the mix, it can literally destroy your health, if not your sanity.

There are 6 major concerns that create discord among siblings who are downsizing elderly parents:
PERCEPTION of the amount of support being given by each adult child.
ACTUAL support being given by each adult child.
Financial burden on the family.
Division of family possessions.
Burden of major caretaking duties.
Medical and financial decisions.

These problems are vastly compounded when a blended family of step-parents and step-children are involved.

When downsizing becomes necessary, it is important for step-siblings to put aside rivalries and concentrate on the well-being of their parents.

Many parents inadvertently create bad feelings when they divide household items according to perA step-child in a blended family already contends with emotional adjustments to understand their place in a complex family arrangement. The quality of relationships depends on perception of family dynamics, social support and physical/emotional well-being.

Adult children can feel just as stressed with step-family relationships as very young children. Weddings, graduations, birthdays and holidays sometimes remind step-children that their families are separated and divided instead of being a cause for celebration.

The levels of conflict from feeling neglected in favor of spouses and other children can escalate when elderly parents become unable to manage a large house and failing health.

When downsizing becomes necessary, it is important for step-siblings to put aside rivalries and concentrate on the well-being of their parents.

Many parents inadvertently create bad feelings when they divid household items according to perceived¬†“needs” of their children rather than an “equal” division of belongings.

Arguments ensue when hard decisions have to be made involving medical care and the financial burdens that accrue.

Primary adult caregivers of elderly parents often resent the interference of step-siblings who offer unwanted advice, question decisions or refuse to help with occasional relief care.

The common thread that should run through the downsizing process involving blended families is the love and care for the parents and a duty to do right by them.

Blended families must address 5 major areas of contention:
Wipe the slate clean and start fresh. No dwelling on past issues.
Move beyond the labels that defined family members in the past.
Be supportive of all family members in their new roles.
Meet regularly to address problems during all phases of downsizing.
Stay focused on the work, not on personality conflicts.

Work to transition the elderly parents to an easier and more comfortable lifestyle.

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