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I am a 58 year old married man living in Port Hueneme, CA (about 60 miles from LA). My wife and I moved here from Chicago about 15 months ago to help care from my 84 and 83 year old parents. My older sister was the primary caregiver at the time and we wanted to be able to help her not have to carry so much of the load. I have an older brother living in New York and a younger sister who lives in West Africa. We all love my parents deeply, but have some deep and very complicated differences and dynamics when it comes to what is best for my parents. To put in the most simple and "bottom line" way, there is a big divide between the two older siblings and the two younger siblings. We are not able at this point to communicate in a healthy way with each other. BIG Issues (including financial issues involving my parents' money and future, as well as differing sibling perspectives on their marital conflicts and relationships with each of their kids) are making it very difficult to navigate relationships within the family, and therefore, are impacting our parents in a negative fashion. My wife, younger sister and I are hoping to get support, insight, encouragement and help from this forum. Though we don't know anyone else at present with the set of dynamics we are facing, we can't believe there AREN'T people out there who have faced something similar.

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Family dysfunction is very, very common where there are elderly parents and adult siblings. It might be the majority.

We drag all kinds of baggage along with us as we age: Old hurts, decades old resentments, rivalries from childhood, etc. And in the midst of a stressful situation such as aging parents these old wounds can open again. Sometimes as adults we're able to rise above that stuff and keep our eye on the ball (the ball being our elderly parents) but not always. Our childhood is a part of who we are and not everyone is able to get past that stuff and put the health of the family first.

Caring for our elderly and sick parents brought me and my brother closer. We had our differences at the time but we were able to communicate and make it through. I was caring for our elderly father in my home. I kept my brother up to date on what was going on and he'd come to visit and he'd call frequently but I always wished that he'd offer to help with the actual caregiving. Several years went by and the situation got so stressful for me that I broke down and cried to my brother. He told me he had no idea it was that stressful for me, that he wished he had known so he could have helped, and I realized that had I asked for help he would have helped! He thought I didn't need help since I didn't ask for it and I thought he should automatically know that I needed help. We didn't communicate, that was the problem.

Just try to keep the lines of communication open with your siblings. Sometimes a primary caregiver and/or a POA can go on a power trip which can inhibit communication. All you can do is work with what you have. If information and updates don't flow freely through the family just try to do what's best for your parents. It all comes down to what's in their best interest.
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