I have read the advice column “Dear Abby” since I was a teenager. Over the years I have noticed many trends and categories of letters and themes; love, unrequited love, disappointments, loss, etc. In the last years more letters appear addressing the issues of aging parents. How to encourage- or force- them to move out of their house, how to manage daily tasks such as driving, how to encourage – or force- them to stop driving and also sibling challenges about providing care as their parents can no longer manage alone.
Recently a letter appeared in “Dear Abby” from a woman who felt her siblings were forcing her to take in and care for their aging and needy mother. She felt pressured to have her mother move-in and to assume a caregiver role even though she has four siblings. According to the author- through her filter obviously- her siblings were pressuring her as the obvious choice because she did not have a full time job and therefore she has time to care for their mother.
I have mediated situations just like this with siblings. Let’s be clear, the writer is potentially about to have a very full-time job taking care of Mom. Yes, she may be the sibling with the least barricades to care for the mother but it definitely is a job. A job that in my opinion should be paid for by the siblings.
Senior housing starts at $1,500 and can range to $8,000 or more per month depending on services required. In home care utilizing visiting aides starts at $100 per day and can be much higher. Driving services generally charge for time and distance making a trip to the doctor cost $75.00 just for transportation alone.
Mediation clients have had very interesting and creative responses to the issue of paying a sibling to care for a parent. Some are offended, some are very glad to pay. One family decided to pay a sibling $100 per week but another family paid the sister $100 a day. It is totally and completely the decision of the family. Regardless of the number decided by the siblings it is an acknowledgement of the value and sacrifice of the caregiver.