Full disclosure - I'm a bit of a lurker here right now. And before you hands-on caregivers read me the riot act, know that I'm appalled that families have to endure so much stress and bureaucracy to ensure the elder years are safe and healthy. I support fully socialized medicine and a system that would not require people to sacrifice their own health and happiness to care for elders. We need compassionate care for all. I have learned a ton from what I've read from many of you and am grateful for the honesty and openness of much of what I read. My situation (like life itself?!) contains many shades of gray. So some of the "black and white" perceptions and quick rush to judgment occasionally expressed here - in response to the barest minimum of information provided by one involved party - is hard to read at times. So please friends:
- consider that long entrenched realities - on a wide continuum between harmless habits and serious dysfunction or abuse - may have influenced our past and current choices such that our distance is entirely rational;
- recognize that we may care for in-laws, neighbors and others in our communities in part because we have been prevented from providing or even offering care to members of our families of origin;
- don't automatically assume we are shirking our "duty" or that we are heartless;
- allow that physical distance and independence may have solidified over time from a desire to avoid being a burden to parents struggling with a more problematic sibling or other issues of their own, and a need to create safety and security in ways not provided by the family of origin;
- don't confuse physical distance with emotional distance or assume that someone who is not physically present cannot or should not be involved productively, and may feel both a right and a responsibility to be so;
- stay at least open to the idea that a distant sibling may have very useful clarity about the situation because of that perspective;
- understand that yes, we may care about whatever inheritance was promised to us but likely no more or less than anyone who is a member of a family may have such care, and possibly considerably less than a family member who never lived independently or who chose to become dependent on an elder's estate at some point (not saying that is wrong in every case, but it is a choice);
- don't be surprised when we offer input particularly if it appears obvious that an elder's reasonable wishes are being blatantly disregarded, or when unreasonable wishes are being fulfilled at the expense of the elder's well-being;
- acknowledge that where we ALL are is the result of many choices - we've all made them and continue to make them every day. If you aren't happy with your choices, you're the only one who really has the knowledge and the power to change them.
Any distant siblings out there want to add to my list?
Thanks for listening.