Working with siblings to care for aging parents can add another layer of stress. All Home Care Matters discusses 4 challenges of caregiving with siblings and shares 4 tips for navigating this complex terrain.
Caregiving with siblings can cause challenges
Caring for elderly parents is a challenging task that many adult children face. In 2022, roughly 17% became part or full-time caregivers for their parents.
Navigating caregiving can be especially difficult when siblings are working together to care for aging parents.
While the desire to care for aging parents is often driven by love and compassion, it can also lead to conflict, resentment, and tension among siblings.
Siblings may struggle with different expectations and priorities, balancing caregiving responsibilities with other life demands, financial concerns, and emotional stress.
However, with effort and a focus on compassion, siblings can work together to provide the best possible care for their aging parents while maintaining healthy relationships with each other.
Below, we explore 4 challenges of caregiving with siblings and share 4 tips for navigating this complex terrain.
4 challenges of caregiving with siblings
1. Different expectations
One of the primary challenges of caring for elderly parents with siblings is dealing with each person’s different expectations or priorities.
Often, each sibling will have a different idea of what their parents need, which can lead to disagreements about how to best care for them.
As an example, one sibling may believe that their parents should receive round-the-clock care in a nursing home, while another may prefer to provide in-home care themselves. Or, a sibling could be in denial about their parent’s care needs.
This can lead to conflicts that are difficult to resolve, especially if siblings have different levels of involvement in the caregiving process.
Dealings with family can be especially tricky when involving emotional matters, like concern for parents.
The National Study of Caregiving found that the majority of caregivers reported low levels of conflict, but a quarter of them experienced intense strife in at least one area of family conflict.
2. Balancing responsibilities
Another challenge is balancing the responsibilities of caring for aging parents with other life demands.
Siblings are likely to have different work schedules, family commitments, or other important obligations that make it difficult to commit to a regular caregiving routine.
Oftentimes, this can lead to feelings of guilt or resentment among siblings who feel that they are inadequately supporting their parents.
3. Financial concerns
Financial concerns can also be a source of tension among siblings.
Caring for aging parents can be expensive, especially if they require professional medical care or in-home assistance.
One sibling may feel that they are shouldering more of the financial burden than others, leading to resentment and frustration.
It is important for siblings to have open and honest conversations about financial responsibilities and to come up with a plan that is fair and equitable for everyone involved.
4. Emotional stress
Emotional stress is another significant challenge for siblings caring for elderly parents.
Watching parents age and decline can be a painful and emotional experience.
Siblings may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for their parents, anxious about their health and well-being, or sad about the loss of their independence.
This emotional stress can lead to conflicts and tension among siblings as they struggle to cope with their own feelings and support each other.
4 tips for navigating the challenges of caregiving with siblings
1. Regular and open communication
Communication is key to managing the challenges of caring for elderly parents as siblings.
Regular and open communication can help siblings to clarify expectations, share concerns, and work together to make decisions about their parents’ care.
Siblings will need to listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions, even when they inevitably disagree.
And as the health and needs of aging parents change, so too will the caregiving responsibilities of siblings.
Staying in frequent communication and reevaluating the caregiving plan as needed can help ensure that everyone is on the same page.
2. Setting boundaries
Setting boundaries is another essential for managing the stress that comes with this territory.
Siblings should be clear about their own limitations and communicate them with each other.
This can help to avoid burnout and resentment among siblings who may feel that they are carrying too much of the caregiving load.
3. Splitting up responsibilities
Distributing responsibilities can also help to ease the burden of caring for elderly parents.
Siblings can work together to identify tasks that each is willing and able to take on, such as scheduling doctor’s appointments, managing finances, or providing transportation.
Splitting up the tasks can help to ensure that no one sibling is overwhelmed by caregiving responsibilities and can also help to foster a sense of shared responsibility and teamwork.
4. Don’t forget self care
Last but certainly not least, siblings need to prioritize taking care of themselves while caring for their elderly parents.
This could include setting aside time for hobbies and self-care activities, seeking support from others, or even attending professional counseling if needed.
Caring for elderly parents can take its toll over time, and it is essential for siblings to prioritize their own well-being in order to be effective caregivers.
Recommended for you:
- 4 Tips to Get Siblings to Help Care for Aging Parents
- Caregiving with Siblings: 5 Tips for Working Together
- 6 Ways to Improve the Situation When Siblings Don’t Help with Aging Parents
Guest contributor: Lance A. Slatton is a senior case manager at Enriched Life Home Care Services in Livonia, MI. He is also host of the podcast All Home Care Matters, a must-listen podcast and YouTube channel. By subscribing to the show, you will gain access to a wealth of information and tips that can help you provide the best possible care for your loved one. Find us on Apple podcasts or on YouTube.
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