Americare Senior Living Blog

When Siblings Become Parent Caregivers: How to Handle Conflict

Posted by Carly Blanchett on Jul 20, 2018 9:23:02 AM

Sibling conflict is one of a kind, and while it may lay dormant through most of adult life, it is common that it reappear when parents age or experience some sort of health decline. They look to their children for support and care, and while the intentions of each child may be genuine, the stress of sharing and delegating responsibility for the best can cause tensions to rise.

Combined with the everyday stressors adults experience, taking care of a loved one can, while out of love, add a great deal of stress to the list. Coordinating with other family members, especially siblings, can set barriers to providing the best care and making the right decisions for loved ones. These can stem from dormant childhood trivial or financial situations, or even a lack of participation by other family members. No matter the cause, there are a few key things one should keep in mind to best and most effectively handle conflict.

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A Few Important Things To Keep In Mind

If there’s one thing to continually be reminded of when caregiving for a parent, it’s that you’re here to offer your care, love, and support to this family member in a time of need. If it doesn’t fall in line with that goal, then it is not necessary, and you’re probably wasting energy and time.

Another humbling reminder is that there is a team of caregivers here. The beauty of having siblings is that you can come together and share responsibility, instead of having to do it all alone. These are people you can trust that hopefully have the same intention as you. Work together to make that happen the best way you can.

The Number One Rule

The key to reducing stress, conflict, tensions, trivials, and all that comes along with caring for an aging parent as siblings, is to hold communication as your highest priority.

Communicating openly, honestly, and often will set a smooth and steady foundation to make decisions on. Here are some helpful tips for communicating with siblings and parents:

  1. Identify and take care of any underlying issues
    • Whether this is sibling rivalries or between parent and child, if there are giant issues that you know may stand in the way of the ultimate goal and working as a team, they need to be discussed and talked over right away.
    • Resolving these issues should be the goal, but not always doable in every situation. At the very least, try finding a common ground of acceptance, understanding, and putting it to the side.
  2. Be respectful
    • Keeping lines of communication open can be hard, especially in such a tough and transitional time. Respecting the opinions and concerns of everyone will ultimately push everyone towards unified decisions.
  3. Don't hold grudges
    • Letting go of past and unrelated issues is step number one, but continuing this practice of not holding on to things too tightly will improve communication, your relationship, and keep everyone moving towards the same goal.
  4. Schedule designated Family Meetings
    • Practicing all above points can be great tools in this setting. Scheduling specific times will keep everyone accountable and allow everyone the chance to express themselves or ask questions.
    • This is also a perfect time to ensure each sibling is on the same page; setting roles, obligations, dates, and all other responsibilities.
    • Advisors, mediators, and counselors can be a great addition to this idea of scheduled family meetings. If tensions are too high, schedule time with a professional to help mediate and advise your family through these tough times. 

Topics: senior living, americare senior living, siblings, conflict, caregivers, caregiving, family, communication

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