How Can Siblings Work Together to Care for Dad?

How Can Siblings Work Together to Care for Dad?

Sibling rivalries can reappear when the family must pull together to help care for an aging parent. This is especially true if one adult child is doing the bulk of the caregiving and there’s little support from siblings.

The same is true when one sibling is paying for professional caregiving or medical expenses. There can also be power struggles between older and younger siblings who think they know what’s best for dad and want to have control these dtypes of decisions.

AARP’s recent article entitled “Family Conflict: Primary Caregiver Often Pitted Against Siblings” adds  the fact a parent may have a preference for which child will be the primary caregiver. That can create resentments with siblings. The article provides some smart strategies that can help you navigate potential issues with siblings:

  1. Create consensus. Have a meeting with your siblings and talk about parent’s condition, the caregiving needs and what may occur going forward. When you’re in agreement, create a caregiving plan that speaks to the part each person will play. Although one person will do most of the work, the other siblings must be supporting players or provide respite care. Make sure to review what’s happening with your parents and how their needs are changing. Adjust the plan as needed.
  2. Set up a division of labor. Discuss the sibling who’s best suited to which responsibilities based on abilities, financial resources, location to your parents, availability and other factors. You should also, try to be flexible about swapping tasks from one sibling to another, as circumstances changes.
  3. Decide how to communicate. Make sure everyone agrees to keep each another apprised of any changes in your parent’s condition or needs. Get together to determine the preferred way of communication (like group texts or email) for sharing important data between scheduled meetings.
  4. Ask for what’s needed. If you’re the primary caregiver, don’t set yourself up to shoulder every caregiving task or decision. That can create resentment and burnout. Be assertive and direct. Detail the specifics of what you need.
  5. You should contact an estate planning attorney as well to discuss the need for any estate planning documents such as a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy or Living Will.

Reference: AARP (Oct. 28, 2019) “Family Conflict: Primary Caregiver Often Pitted Against Siblings”