Page 3 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - March 2020 - 27-03
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 As adults, you might be surprised how easy it is to fall back into childhood roles and rivalries when working together to care for aging parents. Old feelings and arguments are often stirred up. Childhood competition may start again over the need for love, approval, or to be seen as import- ant or competent. These struggles are likely to show up in arguments over who does or doesn’t do something, how much each person does, and who’s in charge.
Keep in mind that it’s not likely, and not practical, that you’ll find a truly equal distri- bution of caregiving work. Instead, it helps the whole team if responsibilities are distributed in ways that make sense based on each person’s unique situation.
It’s natural for one or two to take on more responsibility than others; sometimes because they can respond more quickly, have more access to necessary records or other details, or live near- by. However, if the caregiving responsibilities are significantly out-of-balance, decide how to ease the burden for the primary caregiver. It is import- ant that all siblings contribute.
• If there’s too much conflict between siblings, consider getting a neutral, unbiased person to facilitate the meeting.
It’s important to understand what causes sib- ling tension in order to address it. Then the focus can turn toward the person needing care rather than issues from the past. This makes it easier to create care plans and schedules that balance the responsibilities of everyone based on their skills, time available, and oftentimes distance.
Plus, when siblings are in conflict, parents
are likely to know. It will probably upset them to be unintentionally causing a difficult situation. Furthermore, time and energy spent squabbling is time and energy lost that could have gone toward caring for a parent.
It’s helpful to remind yourselves that everyone is now an adult and that you don’t have to follow
Siblings may have different ideas about what parents need. Siblings deal with their par- ents’ decline in different ways. Some need the
Above all seek to be kind to each other. Caregiving is a tough job that tests everyone’s patience. And some parents are uncooperative, mean, or don’t show any appreciation.
It makes the job a little easier when siblings are kind to each other. Plus, you can vent your frus- trations to each other and get support, knowing that you all understand the situation.
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Senior Times - March 2020 Page 3
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
For some families, working with siblings to care for aging parents can be almost as chal- lenging as the caregiving itself. Caring for aging parents can get extra complicated when siblings must work together and old family issues arise creating an emotionally-charged situation.
• Understand what causes sibling tension. • Balance caregiving responsibilities.
• Handle disagreements about care needed.
Siblings might compete to be the favorite or fight to control decisions. Uncertainty can cause conflict and there’s no how-to manual to guide you through caring for your parents as a team. It’s also an emotional time as you watch your parents decline. Consequently, tensions can erupt as you decide how to address the care needs of a parent.
Everyone has different ways of coping with their parents’ aging – like denial, anger, sad- ness, or fear.
the behavior patterns of childhood.
Try to treat each other with respect, as you
parent to always act like the parent, some become overprotective and hope they can prevent any- thing bad from happening, and some just can’t accept the fact that their parents need help.
would any another adult.
As a family, carefully consider – or recon-
How to handle these differences:
• If possible, give siblings time to process what’s
sider – the caregiving responsibilities. Families often don’t think about or discuss in advance who will be the primary caregiver and how other fam- ily members will help.
happening and slowly come to an agreement on
A common situation is for the sibling who lives close by to start helping parents with small things. A year later, they realize they’re now spending 40+ hours a week caregiving and feel- ing angry at the other siblings for not doing their share.
how much care is really needed.
• Discuss and agree upon the tasks each person
It’s easy for families to make common assumptions like the son will handle finances
and the daughter will take care of emotional or physical needs. Or possibly one sibling should be Mom’s caregiver because they don’t have a job or they need a place to stay. The problem is that these assumptions don’t distribute the work fairly or take individual capabilities into account.
• Keep all siblings up to date about your parent’s condition so everyone has the facts. That means sharing reports and information from doctors, care managers, and more, or simply what was done around the house or needs to be done. Remember that parents may tell each sibling different things. Work together to pool your information so you all get a more complete picture.
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will be expected to do, if anyone will be paid for what they do, and how those payments will work.
It’s helpful to remember that when siblings are able to work together to care for aging parents, the parents will get better care overall.

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