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A Guide For Siblings Who Share Caregiving

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Strategies for Navigating the Complexities of Caring for Aging Parents Together

When caring for your aging parents, you can use all the help your siblings have to offer. Your brothers and sisters can provide tremendous support, but there may also be challenging family dynamics.

Emphasize the significance of sharing caregiving responsibilities with your siblings. This not only lightens your load but also strengthens your family bond. Consider these strategies to work together as a team effectively.

Managing Logistics

  1. Underline the necessity of holding open and honest family meetings. Even if your family is geographically dispersed, strive to gather in one place. Discussing how to care for your parents before a crisis occurs enables you to approach the topic with a clear and unified perspective.
  2. Assign roles. It’s easy to drift into old patterns. The child labeled responsible growing up may automatically assume much of the decision-making. Instead, you can look at your current capabilities and contribute accordingly.
  3. Consult professionals. Reach out to family physicians, pastors, and social workers who can guide you in finding the resources you need. Engaging a geriatric care manager can provide security and coordination in the process.
  4. Share information. Talk with your brothers and sisters about what you learn as you research issues about aging and caregiving. Give each other updates after you call or visit your parents.
  5. Maintain records. You may need to deal with complicated medical, financial, and legal arrangements. Proper documentation can prevent misunderstandings and help you comply with applicable laws.
  6. Encourage independence. Remember that your parents want to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Look for ways to assist them that support their dignity. Installing safety bars around the shower is one adjustment that helps them care for themselves.
  7. Ask for help. Call on each other when you need a hand. Be discreet and specific. You can let your brothers and sisters know that you need them to cover part of a medical bill without trying to make anyone feel guilty.

Managing Emotions

  1. Think about aging. Watching your parents grow older may trigger uncomfortable thoughts about aging and death. Join a support group or read spiritual material to help you understand your feelings.
  2. Sort out rivalries. You may find yourself competing for your mother’s attention or reliving old memories about how your father took your brother camping without you. Decide to let go of past conflicts or discuss them with your siblings.
  3. Respect differences. Each family member may have different opinions about the situation and unique ways of contributing. Accept that your sister may be more willing to pay for a gardener than to come over on weekends to do the yard work herself. Remember what your care goal was about.
  4. Establish realistic goals. Juggling caregiving with all your other responsibilities can be challenging. If you’re becoming overwhelmed, concentrate on the essentials.
  5. Express compassion. Disagreement can be challenging for the whole family when dealing with care. Be gentle with yourself and your siblings as you take on new tasks. Let your parents know how grateful you are for the love and guidance they’ve provided.
  6. Take a break. Remember, caring for yourself is as important as caring for your parents. Ask your parents if they’d like to take senior aerobics classes at the local gym so you can spend Saturday morning with your kids, rejuvenating yourself for the caregiving responsibilities.

As the average lifespan increases, you may be able to enjoy your parents’ company for many more years than you expected. Advanced planning and skillful communication will help you and your siblings collaborate on caregiving, making this stage in your family’s life more joyful and meaningful.

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