3 Tips for Managing Caregiving with Siblings

caregiving with siblings

Caring for parents can cause resentment toward siblings

Caring for parents is complicated because it forces you and your siblings to work together in an emotionally-charged situation. 80% of American adults have siblings, so it’s an issue that the majority of caregivers are dealing with.


Advice on caregiving with your siblings

Family Caregiver Alliance is well-known nonprofit organization that supports family caregivers with services and resources. We’ve summarized 3 key points from their comprehensive article about resolving issues when caregiving with your siblings:

  • Understanding what causes sibling tension
  • Re-balancing caregiving responsibilities when one person has been doing all the work
  • Handling disagreements about how much help your parents need


1. Why sibling tensions can erupt as parents need care

Uncertainty can cause conflict and there’s no how-to manual to guide you through caring for your parents as a team. It’s also an emotional time as you watch your parents decline. Everyone has different ways of coping with their parents’ aging – like denial, anger, sadness, or fear.

On top of all that, old feelings and arguments are being stirred up. Childhood competition may start again over the need for love, approval, or to be seen as important or competent. These struggles are likely to show up in arguments over who does or doesn’t do something, how much each person does, and who’s in charge.


2. As a family, carefully consider – or reconsider – the caregiving responsibilities

Families often don’t think about or discuss in advance who will be the primary caregiver and how other family members will help.

A common situation is for the sibling who lives close by to start helping parents with small things. A year later, they realize they’re now spending 50+ hours a week caregiving and feeling angry at the other siblings for not doing their share.

It’s easy for families to fall into that trap or to make common assumptions like:

  • The son will handle finances and the daughter will take care of emotional or physical needs.
  • One sibling should be Mom’s caregiver because they don’t have a job or they need a place to stay.

The problem is that these assumptions don’t distribute the work fairly or take individual capabilities into account.

It’s important for families to hold a meeting to discuss and agree upon the tasks each person will be expected to do, if anyone will be paid for what they do, and how those payments will work. If the caregiving is already out-of-balance, decide how to ease the burden for the primary caregiver. If there’s too much conflict between siblings, consider getting a neutral 3rd party to facilitate the meeting.


3. Siblings may have different ideas about what parents need

Siblings deal with their parents’ decline in different ways. Some need the parent to always act like the parent, some become overprotective and hope they can prevent anything bad from happening, and some just can’t accept the fact that their parents need help.

How to handle these differences:

  • If possible, give siblings time to process what’s happening and slowly come to an agreement on how much care is really needed.
  • Keep all siblings up to date about your parent’s condition so everyone has the facts. That means sharing reports and info from doctors, geriatric care managers, or social workers.
  • Remember that parents may tell each child different things about their health. Work together and pool your info so you all get a more complete picture.


Next Step > See the full article for more tips on working with siblings to care for parents at Family Caregiver Alliance


You might also like:
4 Tips to Get Family to Help with Elderly Parents
3 Ways to Deal with Family in Denial About Seniors Needing Help
Stop Arguing with Siblings about Mom’s Care, Try Elder Mediation


By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Slate

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