Life-threatening illness ratchets up stress on midlife siblings caring for an aging parent. Sibling family meetings about end of life issues are a great tool to discuss the eventual or imminent death of aging parents. They can be used to establish a safe environment where plans, decisions, conflicts, and grief issues can be discussed honestly and openly. Family-centered care, which is what midlife siblings want to offer an aging parent, is an integral part sibling family care at end of life. The overall goal of a sibling family meeting about end-of-life care is to coalesce or enhance supportive communication, and family functioning and carry out a parent’s wishes about death
Family dynamics and functions can be improved by a siblings family meeting about end of life through:
· Promotion of cohesiveness
· Reduction of midlife sibling conflict
· Encouragement to share thoughts and feelings with each other
· Promotion of “cooperation and communication among family members in decision making”
Integral to this process is the sharing together of family grief if the parent is at the end of life or fear of end of life .If the family meeting is preemptive it also a way to make a preventative plan about family roles and responsibilities at end of life for a parent.
It’s important to realize that discussions involving end of life decisions can take be quite lengthy, can involve numerous family members, including midlife siblings in a series of meetings spaced over time.
In future blogs I will cover who should attend these type of family meeting and how to do an agenda.
For more information check out by book Care Manager’s Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett 2009 Gwendolyn Lazo Harris MA, CT and Diane Le Van, MA, Gerontologist, wrote an excellent chapter entitles Dying Grief and Burial in the Aging Family