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Common Caregiver Problems: A Series with Solutions – Part 5 – Sibling Rivalry

Caregiver PhiladelphiaWhen 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.

4 Ways to Improve Caregiving Alongside 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:

  • Getting unnecessarily angry or invested in debates over very minor matters.  If you are shouting at each other over who will do the grocery shopping, that usually means deeper issues are at play.
  • Criticisms become personal: always remember that everyone involved is present to help the parent.  Make that fact your common ground.
  • You -or a sibling- start becoming possessive, trying to monopolize caregiving time and squeezing out others.

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.

Neighborly Home Care Offers Full Time and Respite Care

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.

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The families we serve keep saying great things.

I just wanted to tell you how grateful we are that Neighborly Home Care stepped in & took over taking care of my Dad when we really needed it, no questions asked. Our caregiver has become part of the family and we know we can depend on her being there every day & taking great care of my Dad. He misses her when she’s not there!

— Daughter of an NHC Client