In many families, it is quite common for one sibling to emerge as the primary caregiver for an aging parent. This can happen for all sorts of reasons. In some cases, one child is naturally closer with their parents, or has a temperament better suited to providing care.
For other families, the decision is a purely practical one — perhaps one sibling lives closer, or they have a job with more freedom and flexibility, allowing them to step into the caregiving role more easily.
In any case, it can be challenging when one sibling has to bear the brunt of caregiving work for the family. While it is one of the most meaningful and powerful acts of love there is, caregiving can also take a mental and physical toll over time. Many people who have been called to serve as a caregiver to an aging parent or grandparent experience high levels of stress. Many caregivers say that they do not have time to sleep, exercise, or go to the doctor, and countless others report that caregiving has interfered with their work or family time, in one way or another.
If you are noticing that your sister or brother is becoming burdened by the responsibilities of caregiving, it’s important to remind them that they don’t have to go through it all alone. Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to support your sibling, in ways both large and small.
Looking to help your sister or brother manage everything that goes into caregiving — and maybe even help them enjoy a well-deserved break? Here are a few things that siblings can do to help each other out through the ups and downs of caregiving:
Help Your Sibling Take Care of Themselves
One of the most important things you can do for a sibling is to help them take care of themselves. Caregiving can be stressful, exhausting, and time-consuming, particularly when you need to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility alone. Whenever possible, try to find ways to support your sibling and encourage them to relax, unwind, and step away from caregiving when needed. If you can do it appropriately, encourage them to look into caregiver support groups in their local area. Encourage your loved one to make time for self-care and relaxation; you can also help out by sending over a gift card for a bookstore, a spa, or an outdoor adventure — whatever will help your brother or sister decompress and have a good time.
Be Present and Supportive
It’s quite common for family caregiving to lead to family disagreements. One way to help head off these arguments — or resolve them more quickly, when they do bubble up — is to be present for your sibling. Practice empathy and compassion. Be an active listener, and be receptive when your loved one needs to vent. When a sibling asks for help, try to find a solution and pitch in, and avoid making excuses or trying to pass the buck.
Finally, make time to simply remind your loved one that they’re not alone. Schedule regular times to chat on the phone, send over care packages, stay connected by email, or send over an encouraging card or letter every month. As much as possible, try to stay connected and be an active part of your sibling’s life.
Pitch In Whenever and However You Can
If your work schedule or physical distance keeps you from being able to serve as a regular caregiver, ask your sibling and your elderly loved one about other ways you can contribute. This might mean helping financially, by helping to pay for your senior loved one’s groceries or other expenses. There may also be practical ways to help, even from a distance.
For example, if you can’t be there in person, can you handle a logistical or technical challenge — such as helping manage your loved one’s schedule, or coordinating a phone tree among their caregiving network? If your sibling doesn’t have the bandwidth to host a family reunion at their place, can you offer to find another venue or host the event at your home? Can you help manage resources and services that can help make life easier for the senior and their primary caregiver, such as meal delivery, housekeeping, or driving services?
Be sure to include your entire family in this conversation, and be respectful of your sibling’s limits or boundaries. Emphasize that you’re looking to help and provide support, not overstep or interfere.
Look Into Home Care Resources for Your Senior Loved One
If your sibling could use a helping hand, encourage them to seek out home care resources in their area. You can start researching and looking into care options remotely, and coordinate important family discussions over video call or by phone for those moments when you can’t be together in person.
Home care is also commonly known as respite care — because it’s all about giving the primary caregiver some respite from their caregiving duty, for as much or as little time as they need.
Home care is a flexible and affordable way to give the caregiver in your family a chance to rest, while making sure that your senior loved one continues to get the support they need to live independently in the comfort and safety of home. A professional caregiver can step in and provide:
- Assistance with routine activities of daily living (such as sitting, standing, or moving from room to room)
- Help with bathing, grooming, and hygiene
- Reliable, safe driving services
- Assistance with shopping, meal preparation, and service
- Regular exercise and medication reminders
- A helping hand with laundry and other light housekeeping duties
- Companionship and social support (including playing games, sharing meals, and going on outings)
Remember, there is no shame or weakness in asking for help. In fact, it’s one of the strongest and most useful things your sibling can do — both to take care of themselves, and to continue to ensure the health and safety of your elderly loved one.
Looking for a Solution That Works for Your Family? Companions for Seniors Is Here to Help
If you have a loved one that you believe could benefit from the assistance of an experienced, professional caregiver, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Companions for Seniors.
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own homes by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
At the same time, we want to help support all of the dedicated and compassionate caregivers, who devote so much time and energy to their aging loved ones. We believe that caregivers deserve the chance to rest, recharge, and refocus, and we’ll do everything in our power to give you back time for the things that matter most.
Ready to help the primary caregiver in your family get some well-deserved rest? We are here and ready to help, in whatever way we can.
Our companions are trained, bonded, and insured, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in the comfort of their own home, from providing assistance with activities of daily living, to offering driving services in a clean, comfortable company car. We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs.
Have any more questions? Interested in learning more about how home care might fit into your family’s care plan? We would love to keep the conversation going and help out, in any way we can! Don’t hesitate to get in touch online or give us a call at 866-910-9020 today.