Working TogetherCaring for an aging parent can be a difficult and trying time. It can become even more complex when siblings need to work together to achieve the best results for their parents. What to look for when hiring professional elderly care in San Francisco? Family cohesiveness is critical during this phase, but it may not always be easy to achieve given the various emotional, financial and practical matters that must be dealt with as parents can no longer care for themselves. There are many obstacles that can prevent siblings working together, such as past rivalries, personality and lifestyle differences and in this day and age the fact that some children may live far away.

As parents become more dependent, the adult children must now take on the role of the parent. To orchestrate care for an elderly parent, siblings need to work together, but they likely don’t have an established model of what roles each person should play. Some may have very different ideas from others of what’s best for Mom and Dad. Some may be uninterested or not able to help, leaving another sibling with all the responsibility. Or they may take charge and not allow others to help, or criticize whatever help another sibling may give.

Can Siblings Work Together?

The Boomer Project, a study of 383 adults aged 35 to 64 with siblings or step-siblings who were either currently providing care for a parent or older relative, or had provided care in the past 18 months, reports the following facts:

  • An inability to work together often leads to one sibling becoming responsible for the bulk of care giving in 43% of families.
  • 46% of caregivers say their sibling relationships have deteriorated and their brothers and sisters are unwilling to help.
  • 42% of family caregivers give themselves and their siblings below average grades for the ability to divide the care giving work load.
  • 61% of caregivers are women.

Francine Russo, the author of the book,They’re Your Parents, Too!: How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy offers some tips to help families thrive when caring for parents”:

  • Group huddle: “Try to get together and talk about this stuff,” Ms. Russo says. “Even if one person does most of the work, consider the family responsibility.”
  • Be there: Siblings should prop up the main caregiver: “Call your sister or brother often and ask, ‘How are you doing?’ Be prepared to listen to them vent about how hard it is.”
  • Know what you want: “Do you want a sibling to relieve you at some point? Do you want whoever can afford it to hire someone to come in and help you? Or do you actually want to be in charge of everything, but want your siblings to thank you?”
  • Be explicit: “Once you figure out what you want, then ask very directly for what you want, as specifically as possible. Don’t hint.”
  • Avoid talking when steamed: Dodge the “anger guilt gridlock” by speaking up before you’re peeved. We all know no brother or sister ever gave in to a demand.
  • Money talks: The sibling given financial authority should be e-mailing others with details such as medical bills, even when not prompted. “Transparency can dissipate a lot of the mistrust,” Ms. Russo says.
  • Watch out for personal effects: If possible, sort out the heirlooms with your parent present. Siblings should state what they want and draw straws if there is a conflict. And never throw anything out: “There’s no way anyone of us can know what emotional significance a table or an old book has for somebody.”

Know when to seek professional help

There are many professionals available to help families manage their parents care. The key is to identify the level of help required which can be as little as getting some help in the house from a caregiver and range to hiring a professional care manager to become a third-party who completely takes over the care management functions and reports to all siblings.

At Providence, we take pride in providing care for the whole family, not only the parent who is in receipt of “direct” care. Our Health & Wellness care component includes maintaining a regular dialogue with family members and other care professionals assisting the family.

What can you do if you need a break?

“Respite care”┬áProvidence Place provides drop-in services and are available anytime. Whether you are going on vacation, need to run errands, or just want some time for yourself, you can take advantage of our Respite Day Care Program at a moment’s notice.

In-home Care Receive support directly in your home or the hospital to provide care which can give much needed support to families.

We hope these tips are useful and will help to avoid or overcome family conflict while caring for their aging parents. Remember you are not alone.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at or call us anytime at 415-359-9700. We have over 25 years of providing alzheimer’s care and helping families cope with the stress of caregiving.