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Siblings Won't Share Caregiving Responsibilities (8-29-2017)

Oh the challenges of work sharing when it comes to siblings!

There tends to be inequity between siblings in the caregiving of a parent for a variety of reasons.  

Usually one of the children starts helping the parent, and the parent becomes so comfortable with the routine that other tasks get added.  Before you know it, one sibling becomes the sole caregiver, and it begins to affect their life negatively.  One day that child looks around and wonders why his or her siblings are not helping.  Sound familiar?

You have been doing the shopping, laundry, cleaning, mowing, etc. so long that everyone just takes it for granted.  You are reluctant to ask your siblings for help as you do not want any conflict.  You are tired and starting to become resentful.

Now what do you do?  I recommend a systematic approach to sort out the logistics first.  Start by making a list of what you are doing and the time each task is taking on a weekly basis.  Include tasks that are not being done but need to be accomplished. Simple! No need to be detailed, just try to be accurate and non-emotional. 

Next, figure out the most effective way to communicate with your siblings your need for help and what the needs of your parent are. I recommend a phone call to each individually.  Let them know that you are struggling and that your parent's needs are growing.  Ask them if they could own a few of the tasks.   When they ask what jobs are needed, provide the list and let them suggest what they are willing to assume.  Some siblings will be hesitant, surprised, or defensive.  Just be kind and ask for help.  Most brothers and sisters will respond to a sincere request. 

If your sibling is out-of-town or lives a greater distance from the  homestead, suggest project-type tasks that they can accomplish when they visit, such as window washing, landscape management, grouped medical appointments, or in-home projects.  There is likely something for everyone regardless of where they live.

Now will come the hard part.  Let them have the task(s) they took and do not look back.  They will not perform it the way that you did, and that is fine.  No two people are the same.  Do not take the task back once it is given away or you will be right back where you started from.

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