In making decisions concerning a parent who’s entering a nursing home, I encourage families to involve all of the children. When anyone is excluded, we’re immediately risking the chance that someone is going to feel hurt, feel they’re being cheated, feel that they’re not appreciated and their advice isn’t needed. As a result, when feelings get hurt, we’re halfway to the courthouse already.
In these situations, we’re normally making large gifts, and when large gifts are made and one of the children is not aware of what’s going on, they may feel they’re being cheated, or somebody else is getting their share, and that’s why it’s really important to try to involve the whole family.
Oftentimes when I do an initial consultation, it’s not just the parent who’s entering the nursing home; to the contrary, it’s usually that parent, or the spouse, if somebody is already in a hospital or nursing home, and then all the children; if not all the children, then a good portion of them. So normally with these meetings I have 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 people, and it’s an opportunity for everyone to hear the same message at the same time, and then for the family to have that shared experience & then reflect together on what they all learned about it afterwards. It really helps the whole family not only understand the process better, but achieve a comfort level so they can more easily get through it. So in these situations, I really like to involve the whole family.