Family dynamics and disagreements can make the process of caregiving for an aging parent very complicated for siblings. Usually, this will result in one of the children becoming the primary caregiver, which can create resentment and even more sibling conflict as caregiving responsibilities grow.
- Some siblings are not able to offer as much caregiving help as others. Work schedules, personal health concerns, geography and dependent children can create a disparity among sibling caregivers.
- All families have some degree of dysfunction. However, when caregiving for a parent, open communication and planning are essential. It is a time to make every effort to put aside differences and obstacles (even if just temporarily) in order to work together for the well-being of the parent.
“Try to separate your parents’ needs from your own… and yesterday’s battles from today’s decisions.” – Family Caregiver Alliance
Tips for De-escalating a Situation:
- Call a family meeting. Include all siblings and discuss the caregiving situation in an effort to work toward a common goal. It is especially important to include long-distance siblings, as this allows them to better understand the need for care and intervention.
- Create a care plan. It is important that this plan is balanced (as much as possible) between siblings based upon their abilities and very specific. Can one sibling handle financial and legal issues? Can another one handle medical appointments? Go ahead and discuss plans for down the road, when living at home is no longer an option for your parent. Having conversations before a time of crisis can help prevent further escalation. Once a plan is determined, have all siblings sign it to demonstrate personal accountability.
- Listen to one another and remain flexible. Despite previous relationship challenges and difficult family dynamics, make a genuine effort to appreciate everyone’s perspective as well as their position and capacity to be a caregiver. It’s extremely rare for siblings to be able to divide responsibilities evenly, so try to have reasonable expectations.
Adapted from Reducing Caregiver Stress and Family Friction (Coach’s Corner episode 12). Visit https://messiahlifeways.org/blog/reducing-caregiver-stress-family-friction/ to read the full article.