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Don’t Let Caring for an Aging Parent Destroy Your Family Relationships

When the time comes to make plans for the care of an aging parent, children focus on figuring out what the parent needs and how to help them, but few think about how important the care plan will be for family relationships.

Looking after an aging parent puts a lot of strain on family relationships, especially sibling relationships. And yes, it even happens to close-knit families that have always gotten along.

It sounds easy enough to divide up the responsibilities associated with elderly care amongst family members, but the reality is that even if all the siblings want to be involved, it may not be possible. Work, distance, and their own children to look after can make it harder for one sibling than another. What often ends up happening is that the sibling who lives closer or is seemingly less busy is often expected to shoulder more of the responsibility. As practical a solution as this may seem, it’s not necessarily fair and will ultimately cause resentment.

How to Avoid Straining Family Relationships When it comes to Elderly Care

It’s a proven fact that one family member often ends up taking on most of a parent’s elderly care responsibilities. Most often this falls on the daughter, whether she has chosen to take on the primary caregiver role or not. Caregiver burden has been linked to burnout, which has a very serious impact on the caregiver’s mental and physical health.

When it comes time to plan for senior home care for an elderly parent, keep the following in mind to help avoid resentment and sibling rivalry:

  • Having a flexible job or childcare commitments doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is able to take on more of the elderly care duties.
  • Living closer may make it easier for one sibling to take on more of the care, but that isn’t necessarily fair and shouldn’t just be assumed or expected.
  • Caring for an aging loved one can take a toll and that toll worsens as the parent’s health declines. Be there for each other as much as possible and especially for the sibling who is shouldering most of the burden.
  • Communication is everything. Talk openly and honestly with each other about what elderly care responsibilities are needed and how the needs will be met.
  • Professional home care assistance can help take some of the burden off of siblings and make it easier to divide the responsibilities in a way that is fair and realistic. A professional senior care provider can take on duties that children are often not comfortable with, such as personal hygiene, or home care medical duties, such as administering medications and injections.

It won’t always be easy or even peaceful, but elderly care for your parent doesn’t need to cause strain if you work together with your siblings. The goal is to do your best to ensure your parents get the care they deserve and need.

Be respectful of your parent’s wishes and each other, and be realistic about what elderly care entails. Take on what you can and consider professional senior home care services from an agency like Living Assistance Services, to help balance the responsibilities. Avoiding having one sibling take on the majority of the burden can make all the difference and help you avoid damaging your family relationships.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

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