03-16-11-senior-corner.gifThe 50/50 Rule

A national study of U.S. family caregivers, sponsored by the Home Instead Senior Care® network, shows that the dynamics of family relationships can thrust one sibling into the role of primary caregiver for an aging parent. This can create an “anything you can do I can do better” tug and pull between brothers and sisters who should be working together for the best interests of their senior loved ones.

The study, conducted by The Boomer Project, included 711 adults ages 35-64, with living siblings or stepsiblings, who said they either currently provide care for a parent or older relative, or did provide care in the past 18 months.

This inability to effectively work together often leads to one sibling becoming responsible for the bulk of caregiving (true in 43percent of families) which can contribute to a deterioration of sibling relationships.

Three key factors, more than any others, will determine if relationships between the adult children will deteriorate, and whether the quality of care to the parent will be compromised. Those factors are the adult children’s ability to make important decisions together; their ability to divide the caregiving workload; and their level of teamwork. The lower the self-reported scores on these measures, the lower the overall grade they give themselves and their siblings in working together to provide care to their parents.

Forty-six percent of caregivers who say their sibling relationships have deteriorated say their brothers and sisters are unwilling to help.

Furthermore, survey participants were much more likely to give themselves excellent ratings for important personal caregiving traits than they were their brothers and sisters.

The implication is that sibling relationships and caregiving quality suffer when there are not effective family processes or dynamics in place to help brothers and sisters make successful decisions, equitably divide the workload and build a caregiving team.

In response, the Home Instead Senior Care network has developed The 50-50 RuleSM (www.solvingfamilyconflict.com). The 50-50 Rule refers to the average age when siblings are caring for their parents (50) as well as the need for brothers and sisters to more equitably share the planning responsibility (50/50).

The stakes are high — sibling relationships and the quality of their parents’ care are at risk. But with new approaches and a focus on building better family relationships, caregiving can make families stronger.

Over the next several weeks we will share specific approaches suggested to siblings who are caring for their parent(s). So stay tuned, help is on the way!

If you would like a copy of “The 50-50 Rule” booklet, stop by the local Home Instead Senior Care office at 2825 Arlington Avenue, Fayetteville, NC 28303 or call us at 910-484-7200.

PHOTO: With new approaches and a focus on building better family relationships, caregiving can make families stronger.

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