Siblings as Caregivers
They are Your Parents Also
Remember the old story one mother can care for ten children but ten children cannot care for their mother? We work with many families where either all or most of the adult sons and daughters live out of state. Perhaps Florida is most unique in this phenomenon. It certainly makes care giving even more difficult.
At Boca Home Care Services when meeting with an elderly client and their adult child or children we try to establish the distribution of labor or responsibility shared by the family members of an aging mother or father. After all, it doesn’t matter so much how the siblings get along as long as they can stay focused on caring for their parent. Of course it makes everything easier on both the parent and siblings if there is a congenial relationship.
A distribution of responsibility can be the dividing up of tasks which need to be done, information gathered and so forth. You should play to your strengths, if one sibling is a Registered Nurse or in the health field, that person should be the designated speaker to the doctors, hospital or rehab. If another is a lawyer, they should handle the Power of Attorney and Medical Surrogate paperwork. Anyone in the family with financial expertise would be designated to dealing with a financial planner, i.e. senior benefits, Veteran’s Benefits, Medicaid planning. It can seem like a quagmire full of quicksand when navigating all of these disciplines—under an already stressful situation. By dividing it up, the load is loosened for all.
The family can then come together either, physically or through email to share what they have uncovered and then start putting together a plan with their aging loved one. If the parent has dementia or is otherwise incapacitated and cannot participate in planning then the family must do so for them.
This is why it is critically important to have a Living Will, Five Wishes, Medical Surrogate, and POA while you still have the capacity to make decisions so that your wishes will be known and if need be, legally followed.
Another scenario we often see is a local son or daughter who is the family caregiver for a frail parent. Being in the area doesn’t mean you are the sole caregiver. Other siblings can make up some of the difference- not all, but a lot, by calling both the parent and care giving sibling more often and offering emotional support, creating a carousel of visits every few months by one sibling then the next, contributing monetarily to hire a caregiver or home health aide. Even a few hours a week will make a positive difference for the overwhelmed or exhausted sibling.
Some people give time, others, resources, money, knowledge or whatever. A sick parent or a recovering parent is a family situation. Things cannot be all equal but they can be more equitable. A lesson is also being taught to the grandchildren who see what or how grandma or grandpa is being taken care of. Remember, you are next so set a good example.