Are you a caregiver to elderly parents? Are you looking around and wondering why your siblings aren’t helping you? Quite often, caring for aging parents becomes the responsibility of just one person. It’s often a daughter.
The demands of eldercare are frequently overlooked by brothers and sisters of the person who is trying to do everything herself. Where many hands could make light work of the long list of caregiving tasks, that’s not what happens in many families. Siblings are either unaware of what’s involved, lack interest in helping, or claim they’re too busy and, therefore, unable to do anything.
What can you do if you’re overwhelmed and frustrated by your siblings who aren’t pitching in? How can you convince them that you can’t do it all yourself? It’s time for a reality check. Here’s how to do it:
Prepare for the meeting.
Keep a diary of everything you’re doing for your parents and how much time it takes you. Also, track your expenses and bring your receipts. Be ready to provide hard evidence so it’s obvious you’re not overstating the needs.
Start by having a conversation.
Pick a neutral time and place to meet with your siblings so you can explain the situation. Talk candidly about your parents’ needs. Don’t sugar-coat anything. Describe the tasks you are performing for your parents because there’s no one else to do them. Explain how this responsibility is impacting your life. Have you cut down your hours at work? Did you cancel a vacation because you were afraid to leave your parents alone? Opening their eyes to what’s going on may be just what is needed. State the facts without speaking in an accusatory tone.
Get the doctor involved.
Ask your parents’ physicians to write a statement explaining the situation from the medical perspective. The statement should list what your parents can and can’t do, and to state their recommendations about the care that should be in place. The opinion of healthcare professionals may carry more weight and provide an unbiased view of the situation. If your health is being affected by the stress of caregiving, get a note from your doctor saying that you need a respite break.
Be specific about the help you need.
When asking for help from other family members, be very specific about what you need. Don’t leave it up to them to figure out. Be positive about the strengths of each person and think about how they might best contribute. Is someone in the family an accountant? Ask them to balance the check book each month. Does someone love to cook? Suggest that they drop off dinner once a week. Is your sister a social butterfly? Encourage her to take your mom or dad to church or to visit a friend.
Make it easy for your siblings to help.
Don’t fall in the trap of criticizing them if they don’t do things quite the way you would like. Be flexible and pick your battles.
Caring for parents should be shared equitably in families but dynamics between siblings often dictate otherwise. If you can’t get help from your family, it may be time to look elsewhere for the support you need to provide your parents with the best care possible. Life Care Planning Law Firms are a great place to start. The team of elder law attorneys, elder care coordinators, and other professionals will be able to help you put a plan in place to get the care your parents’ need without sacrificing your own physical, financial, or social well being.