Build a family caregiving team
“Nothing reveals the
fault lines in sibling relationships like the seismic shift caused by an aging
parent’s sudden decline,” wrote psychologist Barry Jacobs in his article “Doing
What’s Best for Mom and Dad,” (Psychology
While one or more siblings may live
close to the person in need of care, others may live far away. Caregiving
expenses can become an issue. Old sibling conflicts may flare up again.
build a successful family caregiving team, siblings need to share a common view
of their parent’s medical and functional situation, learn to collaborate, and
let go of the past, he advises.
is director of behavioral science for the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine
Residency Program in Springfield, Pa. and author of “The Emotional Survival
Guide for Caregivers – Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an
Aging Parent” (The Guilford Press, 2006).
“Ninety percent of the time, one
person is responsible for caregiving, often the youngest daughter,” he says,
noting that shouldering such responsibility alone can be immensely stressful.
“Caregivers tend to be very focused on the needs of the person they are caring
for and consequently neglect their own medical and social needs. This makes
them more likely to burn out over time if their needs are not replenished.
Ideally, family members should have roles that complement one another,” he
“Doing What’s Best for Mom and Dad,” Jacobs described a family of five siblings
who consulted him to mediate issues they were having over their aging mother’s
care. Diane, the youngest, had been providing daily care to their
severely arthritic mother while her siblings “cheered from a distance.”