Caregiving with Siblings: 5 Tips for Working Together

caregiving and sibling relationships

Caregiving can strain sibling relationships

For some families, working with siblings to care for aging parents can be almost as challenging as the caregiving itself.

In an AARP article from Dr. Barry Jacobs, he talks about his experience working with his brother to care for their mother and the challenges and conflicts that come up for most siblings.

We share his 5 tips for improving caregiving and sibling relationships and highlight the key points.

Working toward putting these tips into action can improve relationships and help team caregiving go more smoothly.


5 tips to improve caregiving and sibling relationships

1. Focus on the quality of your parents’ care
It’s helpful to remember that when siblings are able to work together to care for aging parents, the parents will get better care overall.

Plus, when siblings are in conflict, parents are likely to know. It will probably upset them to be unintentionally causing a difficult situation.

Dr. Jacobs also makes a good point that if you’re spending time and energy fighting with each other, it takes away from the effort you could use to advocate for your older adult.

Thinking of these factors might help you to put aside differences for your parents’ sake.


2. Don’t get stuck in childhood roles
It’s easy to fall back into childhood roles and rivalries when working together to care for aging parents. Siblings might compete to be the favorite or fight to control decisions.

It’s helpful to remind yourselves that everyone is now an adult and that you don’t have to follow the behavior patterns of childhood.

Try to treat each other with respect, as you would any another adult.


3. Get rid of sexist stereotypes
Gender stereotypes shouldn’t be used to assign caregiving responsibilities.

Brothers shouldn’t expect sisters to do all the work because they’re used to the idea of women taking care of the household.

Siblings can work only together effectively when gender stereotypes are put aside.


4. Don’t aim for equality, do what makes most sense
It’s not likely and not practical that you’ll find a truly equal distribution of caregiving work.

Instead, it helps the whole team if responsibilities are distributed in ways that make sense based on each person’s unique situation.

Siblings will live varying distances from parents, have different financial situations, and have different life responsibilities. It’s natural for one or two to take on more responsibility than others.

This “inequality” isn’t always a bad thing. When one or two people can respond quickly when things happen or be there in person more often, they can take the lead.

Of course, it’s still important that all siblings contribute. Having regular family meetings to check in and acknowledge everyone’s contributions helps keep things on track.


5. Be kind to each other
Caregiving is a tough job that tests everyone’s patience. And some parents are uncooperative, mean, or don’t show any appreciation.

It makes the job a little easier when siblings are kind to each other.

Plus, you can vent your frustrations to each other and get support, knowing that you all understand the situation.


Next Step  Get more tips about caregiving and sibling relationships from Dr. Barry Jacobs in the full article at AARP


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Community Senior Services


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  • Reply August 14, 2020


    I wish we could have known this early could not have lost husband.
    And I could have got answers for anything I am going through now is condition getting tired when reading too much

    • Reply August 16, 2020


      We’re so sorry that happened. Hopefully the articles on our site can help answer future questions about caring for older adults.

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