For the past 6 months, you’ve been taking care of your aging in place elderly mother. Your siblings live nearby but so far, they’ve been “MIA” when it comes to mom’s care. At first everything was going well, but now you’re starting to feel the stress of being a primary caregiver who’s also juggling a part-time job and household.
Trying to ask siblings for help can oftentimes cause painful childhood memories and rivalries to resurface. Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to involve your siblings in a loved one’s care, starting with these.
Why Won’t My Siblings Help Out?
Oftentimes, the caregiving responsibilities for an aging parent fall upon the shoulders of the eldest daughter. If that sounds familiar, your brother and sister may be so busy with their own lives they haven’t stopped to consider that you could use a break. Many siblings just assume that everything is O.K. because “big sis” has got it covered.
In any event, here are some common reasons why adult children don’t show much interest when it comes to caring for an elderly parent:
- Old feelings of resentment stemming from childhood
- Living too far away
- Dealing with their own health problems
- Too busy with their own career and household
- Apathy or laziness
If any of these issues are present in your family, don’t get discouraged. Instead, try getting your siblings involved in mom’s care by holding a family meeting and simply asking them.
Asking Your Siblings for Help
Schedule a family meeting with your siblings in a non-threatening setting and then start discussing mom’s caregiving needs by using this approach:
- Status update. First, provide your siblings with an update on mom’s health condition while emphasizing that she wants to continue living at home. Let them also know how much care it takes on a daily or weekly basis to honor mom’s wishes.
- How the caregiving affects you. Tell your family members honestly how serving as the primary caregiver is affecting your health and wellbeing, and why you could use their help. Caregivers oftentimes feel lonely and isolated, so don’t be afraid to ask your siblings for emotional support too.
- Ask for assistance. Ask clearly, directly and specifically for assistance. For example, say “Can you take mom grocery shopping every Wednesday?”, and explain how much you would appreciate it if another family member could do so.
- Ask with realistic expectations. If your mom and sister can’t be around one another for a few minutes without arguing, ask your sister to perform more realistic tasks like picking up mom’s medication refills from the pharmacy or dropping her off some meals. Each sibling has specific talents, so try to maximize those within an overall caregiving plan.
- Ask using the right tone. Childhood rivalries sometimes die hard, so ask your siblings for their support using a pleasant, non-accusatory tone of voice. After all, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”!
If the family meeting goes well, you’ll have accomplished your initial goals. It not, you’ll need to proceed to “Plan B”.
Seek Outside Professional Assistance
Caring for an elderly parent is an emotional and stressful time for families, especially those with long and complicated histories. If your family discussion gets too heated, it might be best to turn to one or more of these outside professionals:
- Licensed family therapist or social worker
- Clergy member
- Geriatric care manager
- Elder mediator
Sometimes it takes an outside voice to resolve long-standing conflicts, focus conversations on the present and to find acceptable solutions for all parties. When all else fails, it’s time to ask a professional respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency to fill in so you can take a well-deserved break.
In-Home Respite Care for Seniors in Manatee County, FL
Serving as the primary caregiver for an aging in place senior is highly rewarding, but it can also be time consuming and exhausting. When you need to take a break, call First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained respite caregivers will serve as an extended family in your loved one’s home so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
Our family trusted, in-home respite care services include light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, we carefully screen all our caregivers in advance to ensure your peace-of-mind. To learn more about First In Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, today, please visit: www.firstincare.com now!