What to do when siblings disagree on parental care

Caring for aging parents can be a difficult and emotionally-charged experience. When siblings disagree on how to provide care, it can add an additional layer of complexity and tension to an already challenging situation. It’s important to recognize that disagreements can arise for a variety of reasons, including differing beliefs, personalities, financial situations, and other factors. However, it’s also important to find a way to work together and make decisions that prioritize the well-being of your parents.

Here are some things to consider when siblings disagree on parental care:

Communication is key

Effective communication is essential when siblings are caring for their aging parents. This means actively listening to each other’s perspectives, concerns, and priorities. It also means being willing to compromise and find common ground. Family meetings can be a helpful way to facilitate communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s important to establish ground rules for these meetings, such as speaking respectfully and avoiding personal attacks.

Understand each other’s priorities

Sibling relationships are complex, and each sibling may have different priorities when it comes to caring for their parents. For example, one sibling may prioritize preserving their parents’ independence and quality of life, while another may prioritize ensuring their parents receive the best medical care possible. Understanding each other’s priorities can help facilitate compromise and decision-making.

Seek professional guidance

Sometimes, it can be helpful to seek professional guidance when siblings disagree on parental care. This could include consulting with a mediator or family therapist, who can help facilitate communication and guide decision-making. It could also involve seeking the advice of a financial planner or elder law attorney, who can provide guidance on legal and financial issues related to care.

Consider the wishes of your parents

Ultimately, decisions about parental care should prioritize the wishes of your parents, if possible. This means actively involving your parents in decision-making and respecting their wishes, even if they differ from your own. It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your parents about their wishes for care, including end-of-life care, so that everyone is on the same page.

Be willing to compromise

In any family situation, compromise is key to finding a solution that works for everyone. This means being willing to give and take, and finding creative solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved. For example, one sibling may be responsible for managing medical care, while another is responsible for managing financial affairs.

Recognize when it’s time to seek outside help

When siblings are unable to come to an agreement on parental care, it may be time to seek outside help. This could involve bringing in a professional caregiver or considering a care facility. While this can be a difficult decision, it’s important to prioritize the safety and well-being of your parents.


Caring for aging parents is a challenging and emotionally-charged experience, and disagreements between siblings can add an additional layer of complexity. However, with effective communication, an understanding of each other’s priorities, and a willingness to compromise, siblings can work together to make decisions that prioritize the well-being of their parents. It’s also important to seek professional guidance and involve your parents in decision-making while being willing to consider outside help if necessary. By working together, siblings can ensure that their parents receive the best care possible in their golden years.