Dr.Amy - Caregiving and SiblingsOften I hear from caregivers who are frustrated that their siblings don’t share equally in the care of their aging parents.
Here is a typical question: “I have two sisters and a brother but they all live far away. I live in the same town as my parents. I’m happy to help my mom and dad, but my siblings don’t seem to think they need to do anything because they live far away. How do I get them to be more involved in helping me take care of our parents?”
This is a very common problem. Often, the family member who lives the closest becomes the main caregiver by default. It is necessary for someone to be nearby in an emergency or if there are caregiving tasks that need to be completed in-person, or on a daily or regular basis. For example, if your mother slips in the bathroom, you wouldn’t wait for your brother who lives across the country to fly in and get her up! That said, many tasks related to caregiving are not emergencies.
They do not require someone to be available immediately. Many can be managed either long-distance or on a regularly scheduled visit. Some of these tasks include: home repairs that are not emergencies, doctor’s visits that are scheduled in advance, financial tasks such as tax preparation, and anything that can be completed on the telephone.
Certainly, emotional support and checking-in by phone can be done from anywhere. Here are some tips to help involve siblings in caregiving.
If possible, discuss these steps with family members so they don’t feel bullied or pushed. You can do this through a phone conference call if you live far apart:
- Make a list of all of the caregiving tasks you can think of – knowing that this list will grow and change over time.
- Decide which of these tasks can be done from a distance or during a regularly scheduled visit.
- Ask family members to choose tasks they are willing to take responsibility for.
- Have a check-in meeting with each other on a regular basis.
This allows everyone to stay involved, to talk about how things are going, and to discuss new tasks that may need to be added to the list.
- Dr. Amy www.dramycaregiving.com
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