8 Tips on How to Divide the Care of Parents Among Siblings

When elderly parents become in need of care it can oftentimes be a complicated situation for their children. Here are eight steps to help with the division of care between siblings. 

Many Brits take care of dependent relatives, most often their own parents. However, dividing up the responsibilities of nursing care among siblings can become a controversial topic when questions such as “who does what and when” start to arise. Achieving a successful united front among siblings can take some time as it can require compromise. Here are a few steps to help take the stress out of organising care for your loved one.  

1. Think ahead and talk to your siblings 

Before the acute care of your parents becomes a necessity, talk with your siblings about how you will approach it, if the time should come. This preparation will help you react in a crisis with a cool head and reduce potential conflict. 

If you want to talk with your siblings about the nursing care of your parents, be sure to involve all siblings. It is best to arrange a meeting where everyone can participate, ideally, not just by phone. If you do not live in the same city, take the next family celebration as an opportunity to arrange the conversation – provided you have enough privacy and time for the topic at hand. The goal is to develop a team mentality with your siblings. Of course, other close relatives can be involved.  

2. Consider the needs of your parents  

Take time to think about what fits your parents’ needs and how best to meet them. Keep in mind that this is not just a single conversation, but a continuous dialogue between you, your siblings and your parents. The more confidants are initiated the better as each person recognises things that are important and may shed light on issues not yet considered.  

3. Involve your parents 

Talk to your parents as early as possible and consider their input in the decision-making process. You should make this step as sensitive as possible and, perhaps, consult a close friend of the family or attending physician. Parents may be more cooperative if it is not only their own children addressing the topic.  

4. Sharing tasks and responsibilities  

Once your parents have been consulted and their needs are clearly defined, the responsibilities can be shared among the rest of the family. Personal abilities, time constraints and interests should be considered. For example, one person should be responsible for contracts and other formalities, while the driving schedule can rotate monthly. 

Don’t forget to include the grandchildren as well. Maybe your children would like to do their part and look after their grandfathers or grandmothers by taking on small jobs. This can give the grandchildren precious memories, as well as strengthening family ties. 

5. Plan the communication  

Schedule regular phone calls, Skype meetings or face-to-face meetings with your siblings – even if they are only for a few minutes. This strengthens the process between caregivers and allows each to offer tips based on their experiences.  

Always be honest, open and direct. If you are feeling overwhelmed or unhappy with certain aspects, talk to your siblings as soon as possible to avoid a build-up of negative emotions.  

6. Support each other in the caregiving  

Support each other and motivate each other. Understand that your siblings may sometimes do things differently than you do and accept that. While there may be disputes between siblings or carers, it is vital to ensure that this does not affect the quality of care for your parents. Don’t be distracted by disagreements and focus instead on what matters: the care of your beloved parents!  

7. Be flexible  

It is important to remember that, even with the best planning, unexpected situations can arise. Be prepared to step in for your brother, who wants to take a weekend getaway, or in case your sister is in bed with the flu.  

Also, the needs of your parents may change. For example, while your mother might not have had any problems doing the shopping on her own before, you might find later that she needs help running errands. Be vigilant and respond to the changing needs of your parents.  

8. Understand that nursing will never be equally divided 

In reality not all responsibilities are comparable. Perhaps a sibling does not want to participate. While you might be able to find a way to include them anyway, you may have to accept that you will not get the support you want from all your siblings. If this is the case, an elderly caregiver can support you and help you in everyday life.  

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