Working in conjunction with siblings to care for a parent can be rewarding and challenging. Families often find it provides opportunities to reconnect and reminisce. For some, it’s the first time in years everyone has been together.
At the same time, many adult children already juggle multiple responsibilities throughout their busy days. Finding time to tackle an aging parent’s to-do list may be a struggle. Some siblings may feel they are shouldering more of their parent’s support than others.
Unresolved childhood rivalries and disagreements over money can heighten tension among siblings caring for an aging parent. Then there is the emotional toll of watching a parent’s health decline. It can increase the stress for everyone involved.
Here are a few suggestions for working together to ensure your parent gets the care they need.
4 Tips for Working with Siblings to Care for an Aging Parent
1. Conduct an honest assessment of your parent’s needs
The first step is to get together on a recurring basis for honest discussions about your parent’s needs. Faraway siblings may need to use a video chat service to join you. If possible, include your parent in the meetings.
Make a list of what tasks they can no longer safely do on their own. It should contain both personal care—grooming, bathing, and dressing—and household duties. For example, do they need help with menu planning and grocery shopping? Are they struggling to pay bills?
This is an area where families may disagree, especially those siblings who don’t see your parent very often. They may be in denial about how much assistance a parent truly requires.
2. Set ground rules for family meetings
Before you start each family meeting, set some ground rules. Even when tensions are high, having some firmly established boundaries can help avoid family feuds. Remind yourselves of your common goal to make certain your parent receives the support they need to stay happy, healthy, and safe.
Once you have your list of tasks, work through it in a calm, respectful manner. Assign tasks to each sibling. If a sibling lives too far away to help on a daily or weekly basis, think about remote tasks they can assist with. Paying bills online can be done by anyone, as can reviewing insurance claims or calling physicians. A long-distance sibling could also consider paying for a weekly housekeeping company or meal delivery service. Finding creative ways to work together to care for an aging parent is vital.
3. Communicate often
Keeping the lines of communication open is important. Not only does it help ensure a parent is well cared for, but it can also help siblings head off disagreements. Phone calls and video chats are usually best when it comes to important issues, such as changes in health status or new personal care needs. It’s too easy to misunderstand or misinterpret text messages and emails.
You can use email or text messages for general information, such as sharing routine test results, notifying one another of upcoming appointments, and planning family events.
One word of caution: don’t put the burden of updating everyone on your parent’s condition on the sibling acting as the primary caregiver. Instead, designate another family member to relay important information.
4. Plan for future care needs
While you and your siblings may be able to care for a parent for now, there might come a day when the amount or type of care they need exceeds what you can provide. You will need assistance of some kind to keep them safe. The best time to plan for future care needs is today.
Research and create a list of adult day centers, home care agencies, and assisted living communities near your parent. Have each sibling make initial phone calls to learn about different providers’ services, pricing, and availability. You’ll likely need to hold a family meeting to narrow the choices down and decide which ones to visit in person.
Going through this process now has an added benefit: creating an emergency caregiver plan. In the event the primary caregiver has a crisis or medical emergency, you will have a good idea of what care options are available.
Visit a Sunrise Community Near You
If you are an adult child caring for an aging parent, another solution to consider is respite. This short-term care allows family caregivers to take a break.
Your loved one can stay with us for a week or two while you take a vacation or catch up on your own responsibilities. Call us at 888-434-4648 to learn more about pricing and availability!