Common Issues When Caring for Aging Parents with Siblings
Sibling tension and rivalry is common in childhood. And while relationships often mend and deepen as siblings get older, tensions can still surface, particularly when a challenging situation comes up such as elderly parents needing care. Working together to ensure the health and safety of aging parents can be difficult for siblings. Thankfully, there are strategies you can use to help reduce conflicts and share responsibilities in caring for aging parents.
First of all, it is important to understand why helping parents with care can cause sibling rivalries to rear their ugly heads. Witnessing your parents age is an emotional experience. Everyone copes with those emotions in different ways. Some may be in denial that any changes are happening. Others might feel afraid or sad, while others may want to jump into problem-solving mode.
On top of this, old feelings from childhood may begin to resurface. Perhaps an older brother felt that Mom favored the younger sister as kids. Now he feels resentful for having to participate in care. Maybe one sibling has always been more “take charge” and feels their ideas for care are the right ones while the other siblings want their voices to be heard.
These struggles are common and can make it hard to determine who is “in charge” and how much each person should take on.
If you are able to, sit down with your siblings and discuss these issues. Try not to place blame or get defensive, but have an open talk about your feelings and come to an agreement on how to move forward with the best interest of your parents at heart.
The division of caregiving responsibilities can also cause tension. It is common for siblings to unconsciously assume roles based on birth order and life circumstances:
- The eldest child will take care of the finances while the youngest will take care of daily physical needs.
- The sibling who makes the least amount of money or needs a place to stay will move in and take care of the parents.
- The sibling who doesn’t have kids will handle the parents’ care.
Aspects of these scenarios may work for your family, but it is important to remember that one person cannot handle the physical, day-to-day care alone. Discuss in advance, if possible, who will be the primary caregiver and how other members of the family will help out with care when needed. This may include taking over care on weekends, having Mom come for a long visit to give the primary caregiver a break, or paying for in-home care services to provide respite care.
Tips for Working With Instead of Against Siblings
Meet them where they are, not where you want them to be. Sibling relationships are complicated and almost never perfect. Try to see your siblings for who they are and not who you wish they were. They may have a different approach to care than you do, and that is okay. Accepting their differences can help reduce conflict and enable more open dialogue.
Be cautious of how you ask for or offer help. By the time many caregivers get to the point of asking for help, they are tired and overwhelmed. This can lead to lashing out at siblings for their lack of help or guilt-tripping. When offering help to a primary caregiver, your words and tone can sometimes come across as critical. Remember, this is the person who has been managing your parents’ day-to-day care. They may assume you’re telling them that they aren’t doing enough, which can lead to hurt feelings and resentment. Be mindful of your tone and the words you use when asking for or offering help, and let siblings know how grateful you are for their assistance.
Get outside help. Sometimes it may feel impossible to find the right solution among siblings. Perhaps everyone lives at a distance from your parents or you cannot agree on who among you should provide the actual care. In those cases, seeking help from a professional in-home care provider is an excellent choice. Professional caregivers, like those at Jewish Family Home Care, can develop customized care plans that meet your parents’ unique needs and provide in-home care services that help them live safely and happily at home and provide you and your siblings with peace of mind.
If you and your siblings are struggling to find the best care for your senior parents, contact Jewish Family Home Care today! We provide exceptional home care in Hollywood, FL and nearby areas and can help your family develop a plan of care that works for everyone. Give us a call today at 954-908-5677 to learn more.