This week we are happy to share with you a guest blog post from Hope Grows.
Caregiving for aging parents is a tough job. It’s done with a lot of love and self-sacrifice. However, even those positive attributes can get challenged because of issues with siblings.
Sibling conflicts arising out of caring for aging parents can take many forms. In some cases, one sibling may become overly critical of how another sibling is handling care. In other cases, siblings may attempt to out-do one another. There also may be deeply rooted relational issues among siblings that lead to various problems.
But perhaps the worst scenario involves a sibling who simply does not offer help of any kind. One sibling assumes the greatest burden in caregiving, which can lead to resentment, anger, or words that are later regretted. This scenario is not fair, of course, so consider the following options:
1. Family Meeting
– Set a time for every sibling to meet, connecting through phone or video chat if necessary.
– Write down specific issues you need to discuss before the call takes place, such as transportation, housework, doctor visits, and financial obligations.
– Try to keep emotions out of this meeting and handle it in a businesslike way, discussing options to handle each situation.
This is the part when emotions do come in. Siblings should each have a chance to voice their feelings about what they feel they can handle in terms of caregiving tasks. That includes you. But also listen closely to what the other children have to say. Stay open to their opinions and ideas. You want to be as flexible with them as you want them to be with you.
3. Divide Tasks
You may consider breaking caregiving for aging parents down into separate tasks and then deciding who can do each one. Even a person who lives at a great distance can handle legal and medical paperwork issues, if they have that skill. Attempt to divide up tasks based on location, skill, and expertise. However, it is important to not have unrealistic expectations that the caregiving responsibilities will be divided equally.
4. Emphasize Teamwork
There may be issues between siblings and parents that other siblings should not get involved in. Instead, it can be helpful to focus on the siblings helping each other out in a caregiving situation. A sibling with longstanding issues with a parent may become more willing to help if they see it as a chance to help out their siblings.
Keep everyone in the loop. Find a way to offer frequent updates through phone calls, text message groups, or email. Try to set up a time to talk through decisions well before they need to be made, such as medical care, housing options, and estate planning.
It is reasonable to hope that siblings will be willing to work toward helping to care for aging parents, but that is not always the case. Try your best to put aside such issues and move forward with what has to be done, and use some of the above suggestions to make the situation progress more smoothly. If you are in need of assistance at any point in your caregiving journey, Hope Grows may be able to help.
Lisa Story is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope Grows. She discovered a lack of support for caregivers in the Pittsburgh area following the death of her father. As an avid gardener, her belief in the restorative power of planting led her to found Hope Grows. It is the mission of Hope Grows to inspire hope through nature while empowering caregivers to seek wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Their staff and network of volunteers offer personalized assistance, therapeutic services, and resources to caregivers, regardless of their financial means.
For more information on Elder Law Planning and Support, please contact the attorneys at Zacharia Brown. You may schedule an appointment by visiting our website at PittsburghElderLaw.com or by calling 724.942.6200.