Working with Siblings on a Care Plan for Ageing Parents

November 8, 2021

When an ageing parent needs a helping hand, it’s common for adult children to pitch in.

Grocery shopping, lawn care, and help with getting to and from appointments are just a few examples. While it can be a rewarding time for everyone involved, it can also make for busy, stressful days.

You may already be juggling your own family responsibilities with a career. Finding extra time to handle your parent’s to-do list might be tough. An additional challenge can be working together with your siblings.

Unresolved childhood rivalries may resurface. Disagreements over what type of care mum or dad needs and how to spend their money can also heighten the tension.

Inevitably, one sibling begins to feel like they are shouldering more of their parent’s care than the others. There can also be the emotional toll of watching a parent’s health decline. It can all add up to stressful days.

Here are a few tips your family might find helpful in caring for a parent now and in the future.

Family Sitting Together

4 Tips for Siblings Caring for a Parent

1. Honestly assess your parent’s needs

Begin by having an open and honest chat about the help your parent needs, both with household tasks and personal care.

This may be a complex process for everyone to agree on, but it’s an essential step. If some of your siblings live further away, they may need to join you via a video chat service. If possible, include your parent in the discussion.

Make a list of what tasks your loved one can’t safely complete on their own. It should contain personal care tasks, like showering, bathing, and dressing, as well as those they need assistance with to keep their household running smoothly.

For example, do they need help planning or preparing meals? Are they struggling to pay bills on time? Maybe they’re finding hair and nail care a little more challenging?

Remember that siblings who don’t see your parent as often might be in denial about how much assistance they really require. They may genuinely believe the situation isn’t as bad as regular visitors tell them it is.

2. Explore options for care

While your family might be able to handle a parent’s needs for now, it’s important to create a care plan for the future. Visiting aged care and retirement community providers and talking with home care agencies will help you better understand your options.

Each of these types of care is different and offers a variety of unique benefits.

Once you have a clearer grasp of your choices, you can sit down together as a family and work on a plan. Many families find it helpful to involve their parent’s GP in this process, too. They can often provide objective insight about their needs and give practical care solutions.

The government’s My Aged Care website is another good source of information.

3. Stay in touch with one another

It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open among a parent and siblings, especially when tensions are running high. Not only will it help keep everyone on the same page concerning your loved one’s care, it can also minimise the odds of having a disagreement.

While emails and texts might seem easier, both can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. Save them for conveying general information, such as times for appointments. When it comes to discussing changes in health status or personal care needs, phone calls and video chats are usually better received and understood

Top tip: Don’t put the burden of communication on the sibling who is filling the role of primary carer. They likely won’t have time. Designate another family member to organise video chats and relay information to help share the load

4. Create a plan for now and the future

The best time to plan for future care needs is today. But, unfortunately, not many families do that. Instead, some wait until a crisis occurs, then they are left trying to find solutions amid an already stressful time.

Talk with your parent about their financial situation and what they are comfortable spending. Get to know what government assistance programs are available to help finance care. It might also be a good idea to consider providers, like Mayflower, that offer different types of care. For example, Mayflower can easily accommodate a parent’s changing needs by providing aged care, home care, and retirement living services.

Learn More About Home Care for a Parent

Home care is often the first step when a family is searching for care for a parent.

You can learn more by downloading this complimentary guide: A Relative’s Guide to Home Care. The guide covers topics ranging from applying for government assistance to interviewing a potential home care provider.