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Aging • Caregiving Tips and Tricks for Siblings Coordinating Care for Aging Parents

Caring for aging parents is a profound responsibility that often falls on the shoulders of adult children. When siblings come together to coordinate care for their parents, it can become complex and emotionally taxing, especially in larger families. However, it’s also difficult when all the caregiving falls to one person. With the right strategies and communication in place, siblings can effectively navigate this journey together while ensuring their parents receive the support and care they need.  

Here are some valuable tips for siblings embarking on this caregiving journey: 

  1. Listen to Your Parents: First and foremost, you should take into consideration your parents’ wishes on how they want to age. Set up a family meeting to understand their desires, and then you can formulate a plan to fulfill their wants and needs realistically.
  2. Assign Tasks and Responsibilities. To streamline caregiving responsibilities, assign specific responsibilities for each sibling. Assigning roles based on individual strengths and availability can make sure all your parents’ care needs are adequately addressed. Remember: If a sibling doesn’t live close by, that doesn’t mean they will be any less help! There are many important tasks that can be done remotely, so take advantage of technology! A breakdown of responsibilities could look something like this: 
    • A person to act as a single point of contact for doctors, other healthcare providers, and facilities. 
    • Someone to help with finances, insurance, Medicare/Medicaid. 
    • One person to help with ordering medical/personal supplies, groceries, meals, or services to keep their home running. 
    • A person to regularly socialize and interact with your parents and relay any important information to the family.  
    • Someone to research long-term care options or next steps. 
  3. Get the Right Documents Set Up: Before diving into caregiving tasks, it’s crucial to ensure that all necessary legal documents are in place. This includes a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), an Advanced Directive/Living Will, and appointing a Health Care Proxy. These documents outline your parents’ wishes regarding medical care and empower designated individuals to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. It is important to have this conversation with your parents while they can still express their wishes and authorize an adult child to act on their behalf. An elder law attorney can help with these forms. 
  4.  Set Up Access to Health Documents: Make sure you have permission to access test results and medical records at your parents’ healthcare providers. Many offices use an electronic medical record, such as MyChart, and you can be approved for proxy access to see test results, lab and imaging orders and after-visit summaries. 
  5.  Communicate Clearly and Consistently: Effective communication is key to successful caregiving collaboration among siblings. Regular virtual meetings can be a valuable tool for staying connected, especially if you don’t all live close by. Open communication ensures that everyone is informed and aligned regarding your parents’ needs and preferences. Allow everyone to express their opinions on your parents’ care openly. 
  6. Get Prepared and Stay Organized: Caring for aging parents can be complex and demanding, particularly for the “sandwich generation”  people caring for their parents and their own children. Prepare for the challenges ahead by educating yourself about caregiving strategies and resources. Stay organized with schedules, medical records, and important contacts.  
  7.  Navigate Sibling Dynamics with Compassion: Sibling dynamics can sometimes add an extra layer of complexity to caregiving arrangements. Approach disagreements or conflicts with empathy and understanding. Acknowledge each other’s strengths and perspectives. Having clear responsibilities can alleviate stepping on each other’s toes. Geriatric Care Managers approach family dynamics from an unbiased point of view and can help guide families through difficult decisions. 
  8.  Consult with Professionals: Seek guidance from professionals who specialize in elder care, such as elder care attorneys, financial planners, geriatric psychiatrists, and healthcare providers. Their expertise can offer invaluable insights and support in navigating complex caregiving situations. 
  9.  Look Out for Each Other: Finally, prioritize self-care and mutual support among siblings. Caregiver burnout is a real risk, so be vigilant in recognizing signs of stress or overwhelm in each other. Express gratitude for each other’s efforts and offer assistance when needed to prevent burnout and promote collective well-being. Caregiver Action Network has a wealth of supports to help family caregivers. 
  10. Meet Needs Today but Plan for the Future: It’s important to take care of your parents’ immediate needs, but you need to simultaneously plan for the future, especially if they have a progressive disease or have had a fall. You should collectively discuss whether mom or dad can stay at home without help, if they need an in-home Caregiver, or if they should go to a nursing home or assisted living facility. 

Coordinating care for aging parents requires not only organization and communication but also empathy and understanding among siblings. By following these tips and tricks, siblings can work together effectively to ensure the well-being of their parents while supporting each other through this challenging journey. 

6 Important Questions About Your Parents’ Care 

  1. What does your parent want? 
  2. Do you want your parents in a facility or to stay at home for as long as possible? 
  3. When will you know “it’s time” to have personal care assistance for your loved one? 
  4. What is your preferred location, especially if you and your siblings don’t live in the same community as your parents? 
  5. Who decides – who has final decision-making authority? Who else needs to weigh in? 
  6. What is your monthly budget and how long you can sustain it? 

Understanding Care Options 

Making the move to assisted living or a senior living community isn’t for everyone. Some older adults embrace the change and look forward to having fewer responsibilities in maintaining a house. Others prefer to stay at home through the rest of their lives. All are possible. 

If you want to explore your home care options, this is how a private home care agency like HouseWorks can help you:  

  • Home Care Services — If you decide that having a professional Caregiver would be helpful, we can start slowly and add services over time. We can help with: 
    • Help with showering, getting dressed, medication reminders, proper nutrition, transitioning from hospital to home, and more 
    • Coordinating medical care visits, doctor appointments, medication organization and physical therapy regimens 
    • Driving to medical appointments, running errands, accompanying to family events, and going grocery shopping 
    • Buying time until you decide on a long-term plan 
  • Respite Care – Designed to complement the family caregiver and give them a break as needed. Many families integrate Respite Care into their weekly routines to allow time for personal commitments and self care. A Caregiver can help with meal preparation, transportation, light housekeeping, and similar responsibilities while providing companionship. 
  • Geriatric Care Management — Geriatric Care Managers step in to provide essential support, empowering clients and families to make informed decisions and plan for the future with confidence. HouseWorks Geriatric Care Managers are experts in: 
    • Facilitating transitions of care 
    • Accessing community resources 
    • Conducting thorough home safety evaluations 
    • Identifying the specific needs required to support seniors in their current environment

 

Important Note – One of the main risks of having a family caregiver is that there’s no backup in place if that family member is sick, tired, or needs a rest. We can be your backup. Many families use HouseWorks caregivers to complement care.  

 If this sounds like what you need, don’t delay.  The time to put a backup caregiver in place is now. Don’t wait until it’s urgent or an emergency. 

 Explore Your Help Options Today 

 Not sure if home care is the right option for you? Talk with HouseWorks. We can answer all your questions about in-home care. 

 Our pricing is based on client needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or via the web contact form, and we can provide you with an estimate. 

Call us today to get started with care at 617-928-1010 

Or, submit your requests online at: https://house-works.com/contact-us