When you're caring for your aging parents, you can use all the help your siblings have to offer. Your brothers and sisters can provide a tremendous amount of support, but there may also be challenging family dynamics to manage. Learn how to lighten your load and draw your family closer together by sharing caregiving responsibilities with your siblings. Try these strategies for working together as a team.
1Hold Family Meetings
Even if your family is spread out over long distances, try to gather in one place. Hold such family meetings. Talking about how to care for your parents before an emergency arises allows you to approach the subject with a clearer head.
2Assign Roles To Each Sibling
It's easy to drift into old patterns. The child who was labeled the responsible one growing up may automatically assume much of the decision making. Instead, each of you can look at your current capabilities and contribute accordingly.
3Consult Geriatric Care Professionals
Ask family physicians, pastors, and social workers to help you find the resources you need. Consult these professionals for questions you may have. Engage a geriatric care manager to coordinate the process.
4Share Information With Each Other
Talk with your brothers and sisters about what you learn as you research issues about aging and caregiving. Share any relevant information you've gathered. Give each other updates after you call or visit your parents.
5Maintain Your Records
You may need to deal with some complicated medical, financial, and legal arrangements. Proper documentation can prevent misunderstandings. So maintain your records as these will help you comply with applicable laws.
6Encourage Your Parents' Independence
It's important to remember that your mother and father want to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Look for ways to assist them that support their dignity. Installing safety bars around the shower is one adjustment that helps them to care for themselves.
7Ask For Help
Call on each other when you need a hand. Be tactful and specific. You can let your brothers and sisters know that you need them to cover part of a medical bill without trying to make anyone feel guilty.
8Think About Aging
Watching your parents grow older may trigger uncomfortable thoughts about aging and death. You can join a support group. Or, you can read spiritual material that can help you to understand your feelings.
9Sort Out Rivalries
You may find yourself competing for your mother's attention or reliving old memories about how your father took your brother camping without you. Decide to let go of past conflicts. Or talk them over with your siblings.
10Respect Your Differences
Each member of the family may have different opinions about the situation. Each may also have unique ways of contributing. Accept that your sister may be more willing to pay for a gardener than to come over on weekends to do the yard work herself.
11Establish Realistic Goals
It can be difficult to juggle caregiving on top of all your other responsibilities. If you're becoming overwhelmed, concentrate on the essentials. Focus on those realistic goals.
12Express Your Compassion
The stage of caregiving can be a challenging time for the whole family. Be gentle with yourself and your siblings as you take on new tasks. Let your parents know how grateful you are for the love and guidance they've provided.
13Take A Break
Taking time off will help you to sustain your strength. Ask your parents if they'd like to take senior aerobics classes at the local gym. This way, you can spend Saturday mornings with your kids.
As the average lifespan increases, you may be able to enjoy your parents' company for many more years than you expected. Advance planning and skillful communications will help you and your siblings to collaborate on caregiving. Together, you can make this stage in your family's life more joyful and meaningful.