When providing care for an aging or disabled parent, having siblings can often be a blessing since more people are available to help with care and issues that can arise. When a family can truly pull together, set aside any differences, and focus on what is best for the parent, the job of caregiving can become much easier. Unfortunately, because of the stress involved in caregiving, these sorts of situations can also turn sour. Old grievances are brought up, bad blood is remembered, and sibling rivalries can start to threaten the arrangement.
The situation can become even more complicated when disputes involving inheritances are mixed in.
When multiple siblings are providing care, they all need to try to stay focused on the wellbeing of the parent – that is their “job” as caregivers. In this fifth installment from our series about common caregiver issues, the team at Neighborly Home Care offers some tips when sharing caregiver responsibilities with siblings.
One factor that can pave the way to good relations and shared roles in families is having family discussions before the need for actual caregiving arises. When signs begin pointing to impending need for assistance for loved ones, like memory or health challenges, families should try to get together to determine how each sibling can contribute, whether physically or financially. Conflict can still arise, even with the best preparation and intentions. Below are some tips for handling those conflicts.
1. Find time for “strategy” discussions
Having difficult conversations while providing care can be difficult, and can add to the stress of the situation. Find opportunities to get together and talk about the bigger picture while away from the parent, such as at a restaurant or park (public places also reduce the chances of drama). Try to get on the same page, in terms of the care being provided.
2. Recognize signs that discussions are getting out of hand
Discussions about care can easily turn into arguments about matters from the past. Watch out for warning signs that older “sibling rivalries” are leaking into the caregiving discussion:
Recognizing these signs can allow you to calm things down before an argument becomes too heated.
3. Avoid passive-aggressiveness
Try to be as direct as possible. If you would like a sibling to take over a certain duty, simply say so, and express reasons why. Passive-aggressive nagging rarely works, and usually only increases resentment.
4. Consider hiring a lawyer to act as legal trustee
If issues of inheritance are involved, getting distracted from the caregiving becomes very easy. Hiring a lawyer to handle that side of things can help everyone remain focused on the task at hand.
Regardless of family harmony or commitment, sometimes assistance is needed. Remember that help is always available. We encourage all Philadelphia-area residents with questions to please contact us at Neighborly Home Care for help or advice.