5 Valuable Tips for Siblings When Caring for Aging Parents

5 Valuable Tips for Siblings When Caring for Aging Parents

Caring for an aging parent can be quite a challenge. This is especially true for adult children who do not have siblings with whom to share the responsibility. However, as any adult child with siblings can tell you, having others to share the caregiving burden is not without challenges of its own. 

Says Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Administrator at Saunders House, “While having siblings to help care for the needs of an older parent is a blessing in many ways and many siblings work very well together, there are also situations where sharing the caregiving responsibilities creates stress and tension within the family. 

“Family disputes and dissention can arise over such issues as coordinating care and sharing of caregiving duties, financial and legal concerns and the most appropriate options for providing care. And if sibling relationships are not healthy to begin with, they can easily be made worse when a parent needs ongoing care.

“As a result, it can often be difficult for adult siblings to formulate a plan that is fair and equitable in its handling of caregiving responsibilities. Fortunately, there are a variety of steps siblings can take based on expert recommendations that can soothe sibling squabbles and ensure the best care and support for the parent in need.”

Tips for Working Effectively with Siblings and Providing the Best Care for Mom or Dad

When the care needs of an aging parent get to the point where it’s time to coordinate their care with your siblings, consider the following tips that can help make life easier for everyone involved.

1. Focus on the Priority – Keep in mind that your top priority is your parent’s health and well-being. According to AARP®, when siblings coordinate their efforts to care for an aging parent, the parent receives better overall care. While you all want the best for your parent, you might have different ideas about how to achieve your goal. Stay composed when things get emotional (as they often do) and remind yourself that each of you wants the same thing.

2. Operate as a team – Your care plan for your parent willwork best if everyone has an equal opportunity to provide input. The ultimate goal should be to have everyone participate in some meaningful way to ensure your aging parent receives quality care.

Discuss your parent’s specific care needs, and then work to identify clear roles and responsibilities for each sibling. This can sometimes be a challenge because not all siblings will be equally available or able to help. For example, one might live hours away while another lives minutes away. However, you can be creative as to how each sibling can be of value. For example, a sibling who lives a long distance away could pay for periodic respite care to provide some needed time off for the siblings who provide the majority of the parent’s care.

In creating a care plan with your siblings, consider using various care coordination websites that can assist you in organizing the care, creating a care calendar and sharing information. Online communities such as Lotsa Helping Hands, Care CalendarTM and CaringBridge® can provide you and your siblings with secure access to information, advice and discussion.

3. Communicate Regularly and Be Respectful of Each Other – Respectful, ongoing communication is critical to maximize the effectiveness of shared caring for a parent. Therefore, plan on having regularly scheduled conference calls or meetings to keep everyone up to date. You can also use this time to discuss any misunderstandings or conflicts between parties, evaluate how your care plan is working and consider what adjustments should be made to the plan.

To facilitate the process, you can take advantage of the many helpful types of communications technologies available today. For example, you can create a family Facebook page, utilize group emails or use conference calls to keep everyone on the same page. 

4. Take Advantage of Available Community Services – To help ease the caregivingresponsibilities that you and your siblings have assumed,look into the community resources that are available near your parent’s home. Examples of these services include delivering meals, providing transportation, making regular check-in phone calls and helping around the house. 

Contact your local government, Office of Aging, or churches and synagogues to find out what services are available in your area. Also, the U.S. Administration on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association® websites can be helpful in identifying services in your parent’s community. And if your parent’s health needs are increasing beyond your ability to support them, you can also discuss options for professional care.

5.  Seek Outside Professional Help if Conflict Resolution is Needed – As noted in the article, “Caregiving with Your Siblings,” Families have long, complicated histories, and during this very emotional passage, it is often hard to communicate with each other without overreacting, misinterpreting, or fighting old battles. Even the healthiest families can sometimes use the help of an objective professional. People like family therapists, social workers, geriatric care managers, physicians or clergy can help siblings establish what is real about a parent’s health and needs in order to help distribute responsibilities more equitably. In family meetings, they can help you stay focused on the topic at hand and help you avoid bringing up old arguments.”

Susan adds, “Having siblings to help with the care of an aging parent can be both a blessing and a challenge. However, with empathy, understanding, a fair and equitable care-sharing plan, and good communication, siblings can provide their parents with the quality care and support they need and deserve.”

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts! 

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “5 Valuable Tips for Siblings When Caring for Aging Parents,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness 

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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