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A Sibling’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

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It can be difficult to watch our parents age. But as time passes, it becomes more and more evident that it’s unavoidable. When you have siblings, you may know how difficult it can be to work together to accomplish anything—especially getting your parent the quality care they deserve. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make it easier, like:

  1. Assessing your parent’s needs
  2. Determining who has what responsibility
  3. Prioritizing open and effective communication
  4. Being understanding of each other
  5. Resolving conflict quickly and effectively

These steps can make caring for an aging parent much easier!

Assessing Your Parent’s Needs

Before making any decision for your parent’s care, there’s one place to start: A thorough assessment of what kind of care your parent needs. To avoid something being overlooked, consider the following questions:

  • What is the current state of their physical health?
  • Is there a decline in their mental capabilities?
  • Are they capable of performing daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and personal care?
  • What type of medical treatment or medications do they require?
  • Are they able to live independently, or do they need assistance or supervision?
  • Are they at risk of harming themselves in any way?

By answering these questions, you can establish a strong basis to determine what kind of care your parent needs.

Determining Responsibility

Once you understand what your parent needs, the next step is to divide responsibilities among siblings. While it may seem fair to split tasks equally, this isn’t always practical.

Instead, try to assign roles based on each sibling’s abilities, availability, and how close they live to your parents. It can be helpful to designate someone—yourself or one of your siblings—as the primary caretaker. This is particularly helpful in cases of emergencies or when a quick decision needs to be made.

However, this doesn’t mean that the primary caregiver should be handling everything themselves. That’s a quick route to caregiver burnout. Instead, it just provides you and your family with some peace of mind, knowing that somebody is responsible for those decisions.

Prioritizing Effective, Open Communication

When caring for an aging parent—or anyone for that matter—communication is key. Try holding regular family meetings to discuss updates, changes, concerns, or anything else that may need talking about.

It’s important to remain flexible. Maybe the primary caretaker needs a break, or somebody is heading out of town for a few days. Make sure you’re communicating openly so your parents keep getting the care they need. 

Remember, you’re working toward the common goal of providing the best care for your parents. But sometimes, you and your siblings might argue. That’s perfectly normal.

Be Understanding of Each Other

This journey may have its own fair share of challenges. Each sibling will have their own feelings, responsibilities, and stresses to manage. It’s essential to be understanding and patient with each other. Keep in mind that everyone is doing their best in a difficult situation.

It can be extremely difficult to see your parents—these people who were superheroes to you growing up—in a state where they need any form of care. Emotions can run high, and your siblings may need time to adjust.

Do your best to be understanding and give them the time they need to process everything that’s happening. 

Tips for Resolving Conflict

Unfortunately, conflict is common between siblings when managing the care of parents. Here are some tips to help you avoid and resolve conflicts:

  • Keep everyone updated on any changes in your parents’ care and condition.
  • Be respectful—each one of your siblings has their own perspective.
  • Try to understand the motivations behind your siblings’ actions and words.
  • Include your siblings in any discussions or major decisions to let them know their thoughts and feelings matter.
  • Plan for the future together.

This can be an emotional time, so it’s important to be understanding of your siblings—and your parents. It’s essential to communicate that you want your parents to have the high quality of life that they deserve.

While conflicts may come up, just remind yourself that everybody wants the same thing: your parents to be comfortable, happy, and safe, leading a good life.

A senior woman sits at a table, holding cards next to a cup of tea and smiling. In the background, fellow seniors engage in conversation while a nurse helps out.

Seeking Professional Care for Your Parent

Sometimes, you may no longer be able to be fully responsible for caring for an aging parent, and that’s perfectly okay. This is when it’s time to consider some form of senior living for your parent. Whether it’s home care or assisted living, it’s important to discuss this possibility together and with your parent. 

Remember, the ultimate goal is to support your parent’s well-being and quality of life. Our team at The Legacy at Forest Ridge knows that caring for aging parents is a journey filled with love, patience, and sometimes, difficulty. Book a tour with us today to get your parent the care they deserve.

Written by LifeWell

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