Without a doubt, caregiving for a parent can take a family toll. With the new parent/child dynamic that ensues when looking after an elderly mother or father, there can also be tension over responsibilities, obligations, as well as emotions. It’s important to keep in mind that as siblings, everyone is “in it as a team”, not vying for individual attention. Let’s take a look at some valuable insights as to how siblings can support an aging parent—hopefully, these bring about some change within the sibling dynamic as well as keep conflicts at bay.
Divvy up responsibilities. No one should have to take all the burden of caring for a parent on his or her shoulders alone. Set a schedule and divvy up responsibilities, whether it’s doctor’s appointments, grocery runs, trips to the hair salon, et cetera. By dividing out responsibilities, siblings don’t feel resentful that one or more are doing it all alone.
Designate “fun” nights. If you have the type of relationship with your siblings that you can all go out and have a night on the town—whether that’s getting a glass of wine at happy hour or dinner at a nice restaurant—then do so. When you’re able to focus on your relationship with one another as people and not as caretakers, it takes your mind off the caretaking situation with your parent for enough time to put your feet up and relax!
Learn how to ask for help. This is a big one—and perhaps one of the hardest for most people. Learning how to ask for help can be challenging, as we want to think we have it covered—after all, it’s our own parent, shouldn’t we know everything we need to know? Asking for help is crucial when dealing with siblings and aging parents, as one sibling might have a strength the other does not—whether it’s patience while clothes shopping or planning meals at the grocery store. Learn to ask for help when you feel you need it, especially so it doesn’t turn into resentment.
All in all, communication is key when a group of siblings care for an elderly parent. By approaching this feat as a caring team, you not only become a rock solid cadre of caregivers, but also emotional support for each other when you need it most. Take the time to designate responsibilities, plan a little fun and ask for help—after all, your health is just as important as your aging parent’s!