ELDER PARENT CARE WITH SIBLING DELINQUENCYThe scenario is familiar. Your parents are elderly, they need help and you have assumed the role of primary caregiver.

The role has many renditions parents move to be close to you, they move in with you and your family or move into a retirement facility nearby.

And then the dance begins.This dance has no name, there are no Arthur Murray studios to teach the steps AND you find that you are the only dance partner on the floor with your parents.

The dance slows to a shuffle, your parents have trouble with the moves and you look around for someone else to cut in and temporarily take your spot as the dance partner.

No one taps you on the shoulder and cuts in. You make eye contact with your sibling(s) on the sideline. You motion them over. They smile and wave back.

You realize they enjoy being the wallflower(s). Uh oh. And the seeds are sown. There are a LOT of seeds. Seeds that germinate into worry, stress, exhaustion, and resentment.

Ugly weed seeds that become unhealthy weeds. What to do? Where to turn? How to get a break? The realities of caring for elderly parents follows a pattern.

A pattern of one child, often the eldest and usually a daughter, who assumes the primary position of caregiver. Although there is usually some discussion before this arrangement begins, the discussion is often held during a time of stress, an emergency, fall or sudden illness for the parents.

The primary caregiver position is often one made by default and not careful design. So….once in this position, usually for a term of years, the primary caregiver begins to feel like the lonely and only child taking care of the increasing needs of elderly parents.

The longer the period of caregiving, the longer the list of adjectives linked to the caregiver. Adjectives like unappreciated, forgotten, unsupported and heavy lifter become familiar descriptors.

Although understandable, none of those feelings morph into proactive care for the people you have loved the longest. So you ask your sibling(s) for help again, but in a different way.

You write down the facts of your parents conditions. Provide a list or chart of their level of functioning, what they can do independently and where they require help.

Keep the list focused on where your parents now require assistance.

Organize the lists into daily functioning ( personal hygiene, dressing, eating) and ongoing tasks ( transportation to medical services, grocery shopping, prescription refills) and bigger picture duties such as moving them into another facility, sorting, eliminating and storing items no longer necessary, finding and purchasing assistance devices ( walkers, wheelchairs, hearing aids, glasses).

In addition, provide a thumbnail of your schedule. This needs to clearly outline the days and amount of time and round trip mileage dedicated to a typical week and month.

Include any non-typical situations, such as moving or trips to the emergency room, hospital, specialty doctors.

This needs to be factual, non-accusatory, unemotional and specific. Essentially, be Sgt. Friday from Dragnet and provide “just the facts.”

This needs to be emailed or mailed to your non-participating siblings. You literally want to have everyone “on the same page” This “report” must end with at least three (3) specific requests for help for YOU ( and of course) your parents.

Examples might include a request for mileage reimbursement ( stay away from reimbursement for your time!), specific dates when you want to plan a vacation ( and they can be there in your place), taking over the responsibility of paying bills, reviewing Medicare statements and banking or investment management.

Set a specific date when you expect a reply. Give them the opportunity to have ” been “unaware” of all that your parents require and spring into proactive, supportive action.

Resist the urge to nudge or remind them about your request. After all, this is your request, how they respond it beyond your control.

How you react to their response IS completely in your grasp! AND….what if the response never comes, or is far below your request of support?

MORE to follow on this in another blog. Stay tuned if your request results in your disappointment! Would you like more information about this situation?

I invite you to contact me for support during this tricky, but not impossible time.

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About the Author

Julie Green

- 35 Years as an Educator and Administrator of an Alternative High School and Juvenile Detention Center.
- 5 Years as Director of Education in a residential, therapeutic treatment center for young adults unable to function successfully in society.
- 14 Years (and current active involvement) as primary caregiver for my own parents .
- 9 Years as Facilitator for local retiement adjustment group
- Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.)
- Three Master's Degrees (M. Eds) in Learning Remediation, Vocational Education and Administration.
- Certified Family Transitions Coach (Certified Through Coach Training Alliance)
- Active member of International Coach Federation.
- Lifelong learner and practitioner of gracefully applying grit to life's challenging transitions.

Email: Julie@JulieGreen.org

Phone: 208-755-2824



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