3 Secrets to Co-Caregiving with a Sibling

July 3, 2009 at 12:31 am 2 comments

Have you ever watched @WF Wrestling? Ever seen the tag-teams and how one sits on the ropes and waits for the other one to duke it out, get tired, and then they slap hands and trade places? That’s what  it’s like to co-care give.

Siblings. If you’re a caregiver to your mom or dad, your sibling is either your anchor and your angel…or your biggest frustration. There are so many families that struggle with sibling related caregiving issues–who Mom is going to live with, who should quit their job, one sibling pushing out the other, or why can’t my brother help out more?

But there are also lots of families where siblings co-care give–and it’s really important to protect this relationship–and maintain it well.

First, consider yourself a team. Having someone to share caregiving with is a wonderful god-send. Siblings can laugh together, cry together, cover each other’s “shifts,” and play good-cop, bad-cop with mom or dad in order to help nudge them in the right direction.  It’s so, so helpful to have someone in your corner, someone you can trust who’s caring for dad or mom. If you are that co-caregiving team with your brother or sister, consider yourself very lucky, indeed.

3 Secrets to Co-Caregiving with a Sibling:

  • Say what you need and expect up front: don’t just assume they’ll do all the errands just because you do all the housework. Ask, suggest, and work out a system both of you can live with. Nothing is more detrimental to a relationship than assuming.
  • No tit-for-tat: Be easy, be flexible, and don’t keep count. One sibling may do more physical caregiving while the other deals with the finances or the emotional needs of your parent. Do what you’re suited for–but don’t keep score. If you feel valued and supported, then that’s co-caregiving.
  • Timing is everything: one of you may be ready to care give sooner than the other–or one may get burned out before the other. Everyone has a different tolerance level. You’re two distinct people with different levels of physical and emotional stamina–and caregiving will effect each of you differently. Respect your sibling. Listen, compromise, and seek alternate solutions when the time comes–for either of you.

What’s great about co-caregiving is that you have someone to share the laughter with. Even the things that drive you crazy, you get to call your sis or your brother and say, “You’ll never believe what Mom said today!” This camaraderie is priceless.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kaye - SandwichINK  |  July 18, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Good article! It’s never easy, is it? 🙂 Two other possibilities can include single kids – my mom had to deal with that. I was glad I was able to help a bit and my dad was wonderful too, but in retrospect, I know it was definitely hard for her. Also, siblings who, because of work, health, living circumstances, are unable to be involved at all. Which is pretty much similar to only child again. On the positive side – less arguments that way too 🙂

  • 2. Marianna Paulson  |  July 21, 2009 at 3:26 am

    This is such great advice.

    Care-giving is stressful and affects our tolerance levels. You succinctly outline the major challenges and offer some practical solutions.


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Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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