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Why do adult children fight over their parents' care?

When parents get older, it's only natural for adult children to step in and start to make arrangements for their care. Unfortunately, a family civil war can easily get started when the adult kids can't agree on how to care for their elderly parents.

Why do adult children frequently end up in disputes? Understanding what leads to family conflicts over senior care can help you anticipate some potential problems -- and head them off. Here are the underlying factors behind many family fights over aging parents:

1. Different relationships with the parent involved

Sometimes parents have difficult relationships with their children. That may leave one or more of the adult children unable (or unwilling) to cope with the demands of caring for that parent once they are elderly. That can put the majority of the care decisions on the head of the "good" child who takes over the responsibilities. In return, that individual may come to resent their siblings for not being involved enough.

2. Sibling rivalries that don't lessen with age

Sibling rivalries can run deep. Just because two siblings have become adults, that doesn't mean that they can put aside their distaste for each other to work together for their parent's well-being. The rivalry can even cause adult siblings to argue about what should be done with a parent simply because they don't know how to agree on anything.

3. Power struggles over money

Siblings often disagree over how a parent's money should be spent. One sibling may think that it's a waste to pour money into a long-term care facility because they believe that their parent can manage at home with "a little help," while the other sibling wants to sell the house and use the money for nursing home care. Sadly, there may even be a sibling who is more concerned about a potential inheritance than the parent's well-being.

If you're concerned about your parents' needs -- or are looking ahead for yourself, learn about your legal options to protect assets and prepare for the future.

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