An unfortunate truth about family caregiving is that responsibilities between siblings when it comes to the care of parents are often unevenly and unfairly distributed. You can ask for your siblings’ help until you are blue in the face; yet some brothers and sisters flat out refuse to be of assistance or and ignore requests altogether.
If this is happening to you right now, keep this thought in the back of your mind: When you crawl into bed each night, and tuck your tired body under your covers, you, and you alone, have the peace of mind knowing that you are taking good care of the people who raised you. There is no greater reward. You have a kind and loving heart.
But the fact remains. Your siblings refuse to help. Why they don’t do their share of eldercare is a more complicated issue than you may think. Everyone contributes to this situation. Here’s how:
The Parent . . .
- Wants only this child to care for him or her
- Lets sons off the hook and instructs daughters that it’s their “duty”
- Drives wedges between children and plays favorites
The Family Caregiver . . .
- Doesn’t ask for help, rather he or she hints or complains
- Isn’t willing to share the parent’s attention with other family members
- Wants to prove that he or she is the good, always-giving child
- Feels he or she can do the best job
- Thinks it takes too much time to explain what is needed
- Accepts without question that family caregiving is “woman’s work”
- Doesn’t have any energy left to argue with parents or siblings
The Sibling . . .
- Denies that parents need care and chooses to ignore the situation
- Lives far away
- Has his or her own major problems and is incapable of being helpful at this time
- Wants to get back at the main family caregiver for any number of reasons
- Is focused on after-death issues, including inheritance
When you take a look at the above list, can you see yourself or any of your family members in these roles? If you do, these are action steps you can take if getting help from your siblings is your goal.
The amount of assistance you receive from siblings is largely dependent on your willingness and ability to demand it.
This piece first appeared on Silver's Giving Care.