The Challenges of Sibling Dynamics When Caring for Aging Parents

Women discussing problems with therapist at center

Caring for aging parents with your siblings can raise a number of challenges.

As children, it wasn’t always easy to get along with our siblings. So it’s no surprise that the memories of past hurts from sibling conflict can resurface in our adult years. When trying to work together with siblings while arranging care or caring for aging parents, it can raise new challenges in decision-making and fairly dividing up parent-care responsibilities.

President-elect Gregory French of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys explains, “What a family member considers ‘fair’ is very much dictated from that family member’s perspective…there’s a lot of family baggage that comes out, like: ‘Mom paid for your MBA, and she didn’t do that for me.’”

The following tips can help you and your siblings find common ground to most effectively care for your aging parents:

  • Bring in a neutral third party. Enlisting the help of a mediator, such as an aging life care professional, legal representative, financial planner or a home care provider like Visiting Care Giving Services, can be extremely helpful to keep conversations on track and to work towards the best outcome.
  • Consider time vs. financial support. Sharing the many tasks required in caring for aging parents should begin with a discussion regarding how much time each sibling can allocate to providing hands-on care, along with how much financial support each person is able to contribute. One sibling living in close proximity to your aging parents may be able to provide more help in person and less financial support, while another who lives farther away or works long hours could perhaps chip in more financial support while providing less in-person care.
  • Take good notes. Make sure everything you discuss and agree upon is written down, and copies of notes provided to each person. This allows for the opportunity to go back and revisit what was discussed if a conflict should arise later.

Make a concerted effort to put aside any issues from your growing up years when caring for aging parents. Several indicators that you or your siblings are holding onto past hurts and grudges include:

  • Emotions are not in proportion to the topic at hand. For instance, a heated argument ensues from what should be a simple discussion about transportation for Mom’s next doctor’s appointment.
  • Generalizations are being used, such as, “You ALWAYS have to criticize my decisions!”
  • You (or one of your siblings) claim to be the only one who really knows what Dad needs and how things should be done.

Call Visiting Care Giving Services to partner with a St. Charles caregiver to assist you in caring for your aging parents. We’re here with reliable respite care services that allow you and your siblings plenty of time for self-care, easing stress and anxiety and providing the peace of mind you need. You can reach us any time at (636) 493-9058. See our Service Area page for a full listing of the communities we serve.