4 Tips to Get Siblings to Help Care for Aging Parents

Use these 4 tips to get siblings to provide more caregiving support to aging parents

Caregiving can be extra stressful when siblings aren’t supportive

When caring for aging parents, the last thing you need is more stress or resentment because of issues with your siblings.

But getting siblings to help with parents can bring up old family arguments, cause sibling rivalries to flare up, and generally add to your burden.

We found helpful advice in an article from Family Caregiver Alliance about resolving common issues when caregiving with your siblings.

We’ve highlighted the 4 tips we found most helpful in getting more caregiving support from siblings.


4 tips for getting more support from your siblings

1. Ask yourself what you really want from your siblings
Before you can ask others for something, you need to have figured out what you want. It’s important to ask yourself what kind of caregiving help you really want.

Caregivers often find themselves turning down help that’s offered. If you’ve done that, think about why. Maybe you want help with certain tasks and not others.

Maybe you only want help at certain times or just once in awhile. Or maybe you’d like your siblings to help pay for services or for respite care.

This is important because if you’re not exactly sure what you want, you may be sending your siblings mixed messages.

For example, some caregivers will sometimes refuse help, but other times get angry because they’re not getting enough help.

To improve your chances of getting the help you need:

  • Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking that you shouldn’t have to ask. Your siblings can’t read your mind and might assume that you have everything handled. Plus, if they’ve never been the primary caregiver, they truly don’t know how overwhelming it is.
  • Ask clearly, directly, and for something specific. For example, say “Can you stay with mom every Thursday? I have to get the grocery shopping done for the week and it also gives me some time to myself.”
  • Ask for something realistic. Think about the relationship your sibling has with mom or dad and ask for what they can realistically give. For example, if your sister can’t spend 10 minutes with mom without screaming at her, don’t ask her to do that. Instead, ask for something that works better, like doing paperwork or bringing groceries or medication refills.


2. Ask yourself if you want more emotional support from siblings instead of having them do something to help
Caregiving is lonely and isolating and most caregivers feel unappreciated.

If what you’d really like is more emotional support, say so.

You could ask them to call once a week or say that it would help if they recognized and appreciated what you’re doing.

3. Stop the cycle of guilt and anger and be careful about how you ask for help
Try to avoid making your siblings feel guilty. It’s tempting because you’re probably feeling angry and resentful.

It’s difficult, but taking the high road benefits you because guilt only makes them feel uncomfortable and defensive. 

They might get angry, minimize or criticize what you’re doing, or avoid you. That will make you even more angry and you’ll want to make them feel even more guilty.

That puts everyone into a vicious negative cycle that doesn’t get you the help you need and deserve.

When you do ask for help, be careful of your tone and body language. If you’re angry, that’s what your siblings will see and hear even if the words you use are polite.

Asking with a pleasant tone works much better than asking angrily. Like the saying goes, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”


4. Get help from a professional outside the family
Caring for parents is an emotional and stressful time and families have long, complicated histories.

That combination can make communicating difficult because it’s easy for everyone involved to overreact, misinterpret, or rehash old fights.

If family discussions keep turning into fights and decisions aren’t being made, consider getting a professional to help. 

People like family therapists, social workers, geriatric care managers, elder mediators, or faith leaders can help families work through tough situations.

Sometimes an unbiased outside party is needed to help resolve conflicts, focus conversations on the present, and find solutions that everyone can accept.


Next Step  Get more tips on how to work with siblings when caring for parents at Family Caregiver Alliance


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


  • Reply March 25, 2021


    Should adult middle-age children (late 30s- early 40s) have any responsibility for caregiving a parent when the other parent is the designated “full-time caregiver”?

    • Reply March 25, 2021


      These are typically family decisions since everyone’s situation and relationships are unique.

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