Anyone who has been involved in caring for a parent will tell you that it is complicated. When brothers and sisters are involved, it often becomes trickier. Most often, one sibling starts providing care by running errands, overseeing simple care needs such as preparing some meals, and checking up on medications. However, when the care needs increase so does the advice of siblings. Some siblings easily assess, coordinate and delegate care. Some siblings get off to a rough start, but eventually work collaboratively while other siblings experience conflict. Even siblings who have had a history of good relationships with each other can find they disagree and are frustrated when it comes to caring for a parent.
Sources of Sibling Tension
Providing care for a parent is especially demanding when the parent has dementia. Due to the loss of cognitive functioning, care is emotionally and often physically and financially demanding. Here are some reasons to consider that can impact discourse amongst siblings:
Primary caregiver is not advocating for his/her self
Sibling lives long distance and doesn’t “live” the caregiving reality
Sibling had a poor relationship with parent who now needs their help
Sibling has existing life stressors which takes precedent over care of a parent
Siblings have a “peeking order” where the first born is “in charge” of decisions
Siblings have had previous conflicts
Steps to Collaborate
Set up a daily diary documenting your parent’s care needs and your tasks
Know what specific help you want from your siblings
Have a family meeting in person or through conferencing to discuss what is needed and who is available to help. This should include scheduling a break for you from caring responsibilities.
Long distance siblings can assume tasks such as arranging appointments, purchasing items and researching community resources
Caring for your parent is a very emotional time. Sometimes siblings need the help of an objective professional to open communication and get things on track. Need some help?