Part One of “Mom Always Liked You Best” offered insights on what may be going on behind the scene when siblings do not help with aging parents. As you may have learned, parents and siblings are equal partners in setting the stage for this situation.
This blog helps you take action. I urge you to review the Communicaring chapter in my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner before you initiate conversations with siblings. You’ll be better prepared to respond when/if they initially refuse to lend a hand.
The first step in the process is for you to look inward and assess whether or not you are part of the problem. This is not easy because you may be the very reason siblings are not being helpful. Take a deep breath and ask yourself the following questions:
- When I speak with my siblings am I asking for help or am I hinting around and complaining?
- Am I reluctant to share my parent’s attention with siblings?
- Am I out to prove once and for all that I am the good and always-giving favorite child?
- Do I believe that nobody can do the task at hand better than me?
- Am I so tired that I think it takes too much time to explain what is needed and so I say nothing?
- Do I believe that family caregiving is “woman’s work?”
- Do I not have any energy left to argue with siblings?
Did you see yourself in any of these situations?
Whether you believe it or not, the time is now to delegate eldercare responsibilities. Or, let me put it this way… if you do not ask for help from siblings (and others) you may not survive this family responsibility. No one can do this alone.
Here are a few tips from The Complete Eldercare Planner to encourage siblings to pitch in. Try several, or just one, but just do something:
Are you assuming your siblings know what’s going on and why you need their help? They may have no idea or understanding of the gravity of a particular situation. Be specific and share details.
Fill the distance gap.
Chances are siblings who live far away don’t know how to help. Be specific. Ask them to: call your parents on a regular basis; do research on options and services; make service arrangements; send money as a way of being helpful; suggest that parents stay with them.
Consult your siblings.
When important parent-care decisions need to be made do not accept, “You do what’s best” as an answer. The decision-making burden is not entirely yours. Ask for specific involvement on your siblings’ part. Instead of saying, “What should we do?” try, “Do you think we should hire a home care nurse or look into an assisted-living facility?”
Call their bluff.
When siblings criticize you, don’t argue or defend your position about how you’re handling parent-care. When they say, “You should take Mom to the doctor more often,” agree with them (that lets the air out of their argument) and say, “You may be right, and much better at this than me. Why don’t you take over this responsibility?”
If siblings do agree to help, keep in mind that there is more than one approach to handling the eldercare situation. People are unique, and bring to the caregiving situation different life experiences, values, abilities, preferences, and relationships. When your siblings do things differently from you, let them do it their way. From time-to-time, give some of their suggestions a try, and let them know when things work for the better.
Stay on them.
When siblings drop the ball, get on the phone immediately and say, “Three weeks ago we agreed that you would help Dad with his laundry, and you have not done so. What will help you keep this commitment?” Make them as accountable as you.
For more family caregiving and eldercare communication tips, be sure to visit my website: www.elderindustry.com.
Until next time.