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Understanding Sibling Dynamics When Caring for Aging Parents

Posted by Emily Lewis on Jul 11, 2016 3:37:56 PM

GEN-BLOG-BAN-600x460-150115-UnderstandingSiblings.pngThe situation is new – taking care of Mom or Dad – but sometimes, the old story still dictates family interactions. It can become especially apparent when siblings try to assign jobs or make decisions together. Old family roles are rekindled….Who is the ‘responsible kid’ in the family? Who leads the pack and is dominant, and who is considered flighty or unavailable? The challenges may be escalated further when one sibling lives close to the parent and the others are physically distant.

Unspoken Expectations and Asking for Help

A large part of sibling tensions can arise from lack of communication. One huge step that any caregiver can take is asking for help, and specific help at that. Many times, a brother or sister may be disappointed in another sibling for not contributing more, but has never communicated the need or where there are gaps to fill in the care.

Putting Your Heads Together

Parents may give different information about their health status or state of mind to their different children.  If you can pool your knowledge, you will have a much better picture of how your parent is doing and what kind of action steps to take. There will be a lot of decisions to make over time to give your parent the best life he or she can have, so using this shared information will help you to make better choices and work more collaboratively as a team.

Understanding Patterns

Two of the greatest keys to gaining peace of mind during the caregiving journey are empathy and compassion. Try to understand the perspectives and thought processes of your sisters, brothers, fellow caregivers, and parents. Then, consider your family dynamics over the years and take it another step – where do your parents’ and siblings’ beliefs and patterns come from?  How did you and your family come to this point?

Over time, try to use your understanding to find a little compassion: for yourself, your parents, the sister who gives you greatest frustration, the brother who you frequently disagree with, your family as a whole. When caring for aging parents, try to come from a gentle place with yourself and in your collective work with your caregiving travel companions. You’re in this together!

Talking as a Family

Calling a family meeting may bring everyone together…perhaps to get on the same page, or at least to learn more about how others are thinking and feeling. Working to keep the conversation alive in your family is a worthwhile effort and will benefit you, your siblings, and your aging parents. A Residential Home Health nurse or medical social worker can help your family sort out questions about care, options, and resources. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to speak to a nurse about your specific situation and learn more about home health care from Residential Home Health.

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Topics: Caregiving