Family dynamics are always complex, especially as the parents begin to age and require care. All too often, these caregiving responsibilities fall mainly to one child, even if all of the adult siblings initially agreed to help in some way. When siblings don’t help with aging parents and leave you as the primary caregiver, the situation can quickly become frustrating, causing tension within the family.
Fortunately, there are diplomatic ways to discuss this issue with your siblings. In the guide below, we offer reasons why your siblings may be stepping back, how to approach a family meeting, and resources to explore if you require more help.
If your siblings are unable to help you care for your aging parents, LightSpring Home Care is here to assist you. Our fully insured and licensed caregivers will empower your parents to age in place so the burden doesn’t fall solely on you. Contact us today to learn more.
Reasons Siblings May Be Unable or Unwilling to Help
There are many reasons why your siblings may be unable or unwilling to help you care for your aging parents. Though discussions around topics like these can be tense, it’s important to keep an open mind, listen closely, and exercise patience as you attempt to collaborate with your siblings.
Below are some of the most common things that may prevent adult children from caring for their senior loved ones.
They Live Too Far Away
Traveling long distances to regularly provide care can negatively affect a person’s well-being and finances. Siblings that live an hour or more from your elderly parents may quickly begin to feel overburdened by the extra time spent commuting. Additionally, siblings that live in another city or state may simply live too far away to make sharing care responsibilities practical.
In these cases, you may want to discuss other ways your long-distance siblings can contribute. Perhaps one of them can handle your aging parent’s finances or medical documents, including scheduling appointments and talking to doctors. They may also be able to contribute financially to things like medical bills and groceries.
Lack of Financial Resources
Siblings with less income or who are between jobs may lack the financial resources needed to properly care for your aging parents. Caregiving can quickly become expensive, especially if your parent’s home needs safety upgrades or they’re undergoing medical treatment for a chronic condition.
If you’re able to contribute more financial resources, your sibling may agree to take on more care tasks. You can even discuss one or both of you partnering with an agency like LifeSpring Home Care to get paid to care for your aging parent. Many states also offer waivers and other resources to help pay for care.
They Have Other Responsibilities
Your sibling may have a career with a demanding schedule, be obtaining a degree while working, or have children they need to care for. Consider your sibling’s other responsibilities when thinking about how much they can or should be contributing to your parent’s care.
If both of you have additional responsibilities, it may be a good idea to look into home care. Professional caregivers can provide your aging parent with the assistance they need to remain safe and healthy, freeing you and your siblings up to focus on your children, work, or other responsibilities.
Watching your aging parents decline can be an emotionally difficult experience, especially if they have a chronic or debilitating condition. Your siblings may express that they don’t want to see your parents in pain, discomfort, or disoriented by a cognitive condition. Everyone processes things differently, so it’s important to be compassionate if this is the situation your siblings are in.
Of course, that doesn’t mean 100% of your parent’s care is up to you. You can offer to help your sibling find counseling services or a support group to help them cope while explaining that you need help. This way, your sibling can learn healthy coping skills while providing you support, as well.
How to Talk to Your Siblings About Helping with Your Elderly Parents
Discussing emotionally loaded topics is never easy, no matter how close you are to your siblings. However, if you’ve taken on the majority of the care for your aging parent, it’s well within your rights to ask for support.
Depending on the dynamic between family members, it may be easier to speak to your siblings as part of a family meeting or one at a time. Either way, it may be helpful to jot down some talking points and take notes on what they say so you can more easily come up with a solution.
Communicate Calmly, Without Blaming
Remaining calm and reasonable throughout the conversation will not only help you communicate more clearly, but it will also help keep your siblings from becoming defensive. No one likes to feel as though they’re being accused of something, and they are less likely to listen if that’s the case.
Try to focus on the end goal—getting your elderly parent the care they need without sacrificing your or your siblings’ personal well-being.
Clearly Express Your Desires and Expectations
Express how you’ve been feeling and how providing most of your parent’s care has affected your physical, mental, and emotional health. Explain that you’ve been feeling isolated or overburdened and that you need their support.
If you already know one or more of your siblings can’t help physically care for your elderly parents, prepare some suggestions for how they can help from a distance and see how they respond.
Listen Closely to Their Side
Allow your siblings to fully express their concerns and boundaries around caring for your aging parent. Aside from distance or time constraints, your sibling may be estranged from your parents because they share a difficult relationship. Perhaps your parents were abusive in the past, and your sibling doesn’t feel safe caring for them, or as though it’s not their responsibility to do so.
Paraphrase their concerns back to your sibling to show you understand, and then present some ideas for how they can help. Even if they’re reluctant to help your elderly parent, emphasize that their support would be helping you, too.
Collaborate on Solutions
While it may be helpful to suggest potential solutions, your siblings may have some ideas of their own. If they veto an idea, ask what they’d prefer to do instead or suggest you switch roles.
For instance, if your sibling is struggling to find work and is concerned about paying rent, it may be beneficial for them to provide your elderly parents with live-in care. They can partner with an agency to get paid to provide care, and you can support them with respite care or by providing resources.
What To Do If Your Siblings Just Can’t or Won’t Help
In some cases, your siblings simply may not be willing or able to help with caregiving duties. This is especially common when there’s tension or unresolved issues between family members or when a sibling is both far away and overwhelmed by personal responsibilities.
If this is where you find yourself, there are still things you can do to help relieve some of the burdens family caregivers often experience.
Find a Caregiver Support Group
Attending group counseling with other family caregivers can be invaluable when it comes to managing your stress and creating a network of support. Not only can the other people in the group offer actionable solutions to issues you’re all experiencing, they can also provide information about resources you may not have known about prior.
Schedule Respite Care
If you can’t afford full-time care for your elderly parents, respite care may be a viable option. During respite care, professional caregivers typically care for your parents for just a few hours a day, several times a week. You can schedule this care when you need it most—such as on weekend mornings or in the evenings so that you have set times to focus on your own well-being.
Get In-Home Care
Full-time in-home care is the most comprehensive solution to feeling overwhelmed by being a primary caregiver. Professional caregivers, such as those at LifeSpring Home Care, can assist your parents with the activities of daily living, take them to doctor’s appointments, help them manage medication, and keep you updated about your parent’s condition.
In-home care not only ensures your parent’s well-being but it also allows you to focus on spending quality time with your parents. Rather than constantly catering to their needs, you can sit with them, reminisce, enjoy activities together, and make the time you have left with them more pleasant.
LightSpring Home Care Can Help You Care for Your Parents
At LightSpring Home Care, our fully insured caregivers are dedicated to providing comprehensive, reliable home care to your aging parents. Our home care services not only empower your parents to age in place safely, they also ease some of the stress and burden of caring for them yourself.
Whether you need us for a few hours of respite care or several hours a week, we’ll gladly be there for you. Contact LightSpring Home Care today for more information.