If you answer yes to the following questions then this article is for you.

1.) Are you a sibling?

2.) Do you have an aging parent or parents?

3.) Have you ever had arguments with your siblings when it came to caregiving decisions?

4.) Do you have anger towards your siblings?

I recently had the privilege of listening to a webinar, Understanding Sibling Dynamics and Caring for Older Parents, presented by Sandra Edmonds Crewe, Ph.D., MSW, ACSW. This article is based on the information learned from the webinar.

Individuals 55 and older will most likely have a surviving parent. Adult children provide most of the care for aging parents. Some adult children choose to be the caregiver, while some do not have a choice due to social obligations and economic pressure. The adult children forced into this caregiving role have more stress and worse health outcomes than those who have a choice. In addition to the stress and health concerns, there is usually pushback from the aging parent due to feelings of loss of independence.

Family dynamics change the second an aging parent needs care, especially if parents can no longer make important decisions or provide emotional support. Research shows that most often parents prefer the youngest sibling to serve as their caregiver. Watching parents age and die is one of the hardest emotional aspects in an adult child’s life. Due to this time of emotional crisis, some siblings will compete with each other when solving problems based on caring for their aging parents. Siblings will have different ideas on what is best for their aging parents. On top of having different ideas regarding care, siblings usually live in different geographical locations and have different income levels, which tends to affect caregiving roles and decisions. Some siblings will decline taking on a caregiver role stating they don’t have time, money, or the emotional energy. Below are a few tips on how to navigate this tricky stage.

8 tips on how siblings can get passed their anger towards each other when caring for an aging parent:

1.) View caring for a parent as a shared responsibility between siblings.

2.) Honor who the parents choose as their primary caregiver, but at the same time discuss this as a team among the siblings and make a joint decision.

3.) Keep strong communication between the siblings. Keep everyone informed.

4.) Listen and accept all of the siblings’ opinions.

5.) Know that disagreements are common among sibling groups. Family meetings are encouraged instead of having side conversations with siblings. Family meetings need to have a set agenda, a focus on the here and now, a time to share feelings (not accusations), and a rule to listen and respect the opinions of others.

6.) Forgive siblings who refuse to be part of the aging parents’ care.

7.) Learn how to directly and assertively ask for help.

8.) Reach out for emotional support from friends, other family members, and support groups.

Remember that sibling anger is normal when it comes to caring for an aging parent. If you are having conflict with your siblings while caring for your aging parent, call Denver Senior Care today for conflict resolution and emotional support. You do not have to do this alone.