How to Communicate Effectively with Siblings While Caring for Your Aging Parents

As your parents get older and need help, the caregiving responsibilities often fall on a primary caregiver – usually the person who lives closest to Mom and Dad.

According to a survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, fewer than 10% say there is an equal division of labor between siblings. Often the primary caregiver takes on an unusually high level of stress related to the situation. Seventeen percent say the responsibility had taken a toll on their health while 31% described the situation as emotionally stressful. 

Stress affects job performance and can be a financial burden. That is why it is best for the family to work together.

Ask for Help

Asking for help from siblings is the best way to relieve this stress and help you provide your parents with the best support. Experts recommend asking for help as soon as possible. Call a family meeting, in person or over the phone, to discuss how the responsibilities can be shared is the best way to get everyone on the same page.

Leave the Past Behind

Working together is the only way to properly care for your parents. That can be tough, though, when family members are holding on to past resentments. Try to keep an open dialogue and come to an understanding that together you are wiping the slate clean. Letting go of things that happened in the past is the only way to be productive in the future.

Work to Understand Each Other

One of the biggest problems siblings face is their differing personalities. Not everyone does things the same way. Siblings can have different ideas about everything, from where their parent should live to how they pay their bills. While the practical issues may be easier to sort out, the emotional issues are harder. Siblings may come to terms with their parents’ declining health at different times. It's important to be understanding of other people's opinions and emotions – there isn't just one right way to do things or feel about a situation. Plus, differences in personalities can actually help when it comes to dividing up responsibilities.

Divide Up Responsibilities

Talk about what each sibling feels comfortable taking on. Some might enjoy taking their parents to appointments, while the other would rather run the errands, while yet another might be the financial whiz who would enjoy paying the bills. When everyone has a role, no one person is overwhelmed and it's a more productive and positive environment for everyone. Set a regularly scheduled time for all of the siblings to meet and check in to make sure everything is being accomplished. That way you will be accountable to each other.

Long-Distance Support

Sometimes it's not possible for all siblings to physically be in the same location, but technology has made it easier for out-of-town siblings to stay involved – pay bills, talk with doctors and insurers, and research information. Communication is key when working with siblings to care for your aging parents.

Ready to take the next step? To learn more about how Friendship Village can help you and your parents Get Set 4 Life®, please call us at 847-490-6271 to speak with a Friendship Village Residency Counselor.

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