For many who have taken it upon themselves to do the emotionally and physically demanding work of caring for an elderly parent, you know how tough it can be for one person to handle.
One of the most common scenarios for elderly caregivers is that other siblings are not as willing to help. According to a Time Magazine article published last year, the statistics are rather startling.
Of those who care for an elderly parent in the United States, only 1 in 10 felt that their responsibilities were split equally among family members.
If this sounds familiar, here are a few tips for bringing your family together.
1. Communicate substantively and consistently.
As with any personal or familial relationship, communication is key in helping relationships to thrive. Keeping in touch by having substantive conversations equally with each sibling on a regular basis will enable you to better make decisions that are best for your parent(s).
If you are the primary caregiver, communication will give you the needed emotional support, and if you are not the primary caregiver, it will help keep you in the loop while being there for your sibling as they vent frustrations.
2. Ask out-of-town siblings to visit as often as they can.
One common phenomenon noted in the Time Magazine article, and something that I have experienced myself as a caregiver, is that siblings who are not present often get a distorted idea of how the parents are doing. This is because parents often downplay or are otherwise not aware about how seriously their conditions have deteriorated.
When siblings come to visit as often as they can, they can see for themselves how their parents are doing, and as such are more appreciative of the work that you do. What’s more, it will bring everyone closer as a family.
3. Split up responsibilities so that siblings who cannot always be present are helping, too.
Of course, there are some things that siblings who do not live with the parent can’t do, and there’s nothing that can be done about that. Still, most of the time siblings who live away want to help in any way they can.
Figure out specifically what each sibling can do to help, and communicate with them about their respective duties.
For example, one sibling can be in charge of researching in-home care options, new doctors, or ordering prescription drugs. Another sibling can keep track of parents’ past debts or legal documents like wills.
4. All important decisions regarding a parent should be made together with every sibling’s input.
Even if one sibling is in charge of certain aspects, whether it is actual care giving or helping in other respects as mentioned above, all major decisions should be in tandem with everyone included. From figuring out parents’ future living arrangements to making medical decisions to making financial decisions, everyone should be included in a deliberate and thoughtful conversation, including parents.
5. Look into elderly mediation if necessary.
The most important thing to remember when caring for an elderly parent is that you are not alone in having family issues. For some families these issues can become so severe that they cause serious emotional distress for everyone involved.
There is a specialization in therapy and counseling that offers objective mediation when things become too much to handle on your own. You can find out more information about elderly mediation here.
About the author:
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.