4 Tips to Engage Siblings in Caring for Elderly Parents

April 28, 2023
Giselle Bardwell
As our parents age, they require more support and care, which can be overwhelming for their adult children. In many families, the burden of caregiving falls on one or two siblings, leaving others feeling left out or causing animosity between family members. By formulating a plan, you can bring the team together and create a solid support infrastructure that benefits everyone.

In this blog, we will discuss some strategies to include all siblings when taking care of elderly parents.

Tip #1: Start the Conversation with Your Siblings

The first step in getting siblings to help with aging parents is to start the conversation. It is essential to have an open and honest dialogue about the care that your parents need and the responsibilities that need to be shared. This can be challenging, as some siblings may not want to acknowledge that their parents need help. However, it is essential to address the situation early on, before it becomes a crisis for you and your loved ones.

Our Tips for Talking About Home Care Help is a helpful tool that can assist with guiding you through the best way to have the conversation with your family. For example:

DO have the conversation in person, if possible. Sit facing them, and look them in the eyes.

DO NOT answer questions for them. Give them time to reflect.

By ensuring everyone feels heard, you should be able to avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings. This also clears a path for you and your family to move forward together, on the same page.

However, if some siblings are having difficulty working together, it may be helpful to seek professional help. This can include counseling, mediation, or family therapy. A neutral third party can help to facilitate communication and resolve conflicts, ensuring that everyone is working together in the best interest of their parents. It is possible to break through the communication barrier and come to an understanding.

Tip #2: Assign Roles and Responsibilities to Family Members

Once the conversation has started, it is important to assign roles and responsibilities to each sibling. Make a list of the daily, monthly and annual to-dos and assign them out. This can include tasks such as managing finances, arranging doctor's appointments, or providing transportation. By assigning specific tasks, each sibling knows what is expected of them and can plan their schedule accordingly. This can also help to prevent resentment or arguments down the road.

It’s a hectic world and we all have our own schedules. Identifying available days of the week and timeframes for each family member will help with scheduling. Use a shared Google Calendar or other free calendar tools to keep track of appointments and tasks so everyone has transparency into your parent’s day-to-day. 

Regular communication is essential when it comes to caregiving. This can include regular check-ins, conference calls, or group emails. By communicating regularly, siblings can stay up to date on their parents' care and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It can also help to prevent misunderstandings or conflicts. This also allows for flexibility when it’s needed and occasional tradeoffs are necessary.

Tip #3: Consider Each Sibling's Strengths and Weaknesses

When assigning roles and responsibilities, it is essential to consider each sibling's strengths and weaknesses. For example, a sibling who lives closer to the aging parents may be responsible for providing transportation, while a sibling who is good with finances may be responsible for managing bills and expenses. By playing to each sibling's strengths, you can ensure that everyone is contributing in a meaningful way.

Sometimes, siblings may need an extra push to help with caregiving. Offering incentives can be a way to motivate them to contribute. For example, you may offer to pay for a sibling's travel expenses if they come to help with caregiving for a week. Alternatively, you may offer to take on a particularly challenging task, such as managing medical appointments, in exchange for help with other tasks.

But what can you do when you and your siblings have knowledge or time gaps? Outsourcing a solution may be the best route to ensure your loved one is getting the full care they need. You may find that someone cannot stay with your aging parent or even have time to check in on them during the day. Consider engaging a private care nurse with experience in elderly health care to bridge that gap.

Tip #4: Know Your Limits

It is essential to set boundaries when it comes to caregiving. This can include setting limits on how much time and money each sibling is expected to contribute. It can also include setting boundaries around how often you communicate and what topics are off-limits. By setting clear boundaries, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevent resentment or burnout.

It is important to take care of yourself when caring for aging parents. This can include taking breaks when you need them, delegating tasks to other siblings, and seeking support from friends and family. By taking care of yourself, you can ensure that you have the energy and motivation to continue caregiving for your parents.

Caring for aging parents can be a challenging and emotional experience, but it is essential to work together as a family. By starting the conversation, assigning roles and responsibilities, communicating regularly, and seeking professional help when needed, siblings can work together to ensure that their parents receive the care and support they need. By setting boundaries, taking care of yourself, and offering incentives, you can motivate siblings to contribute and prevent resentment.

If you and your siblings come to the conclusion that you need help caring for an aging parent and are interested in private care at home, we would be happy to discuss your options with you. Contact our compassionate and experienced team by clicking here or calling 440.613.1500 to start the conversation.