The 50/50 Rule Part Three 04-13-11-senior-corner.jpg

As mentioned several weeks ago, we are sharing a series titled The 50-50 Rule. Home Instead, Inc. conducted a study to assist siblings’ collaboration in caring for their aging parents. Today we will discuss birth order and the Top Five Sibling Caregiver Hot Buttons.

Birth Order

According to research conducted for our network, 64 percent of youngest siblings are primary caregivers compared with 57 percent of oldest siblings and 49percent of middle siblings. Furthermore, 43 percent of youngest children say they have the closest relationship with their parents, while 70 percent of oldest children describe themselves as the responsible ones and 40 percent of the middle children as the peacemakers of the family.

The Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, learned that mothers ages 65 to 75 were willing to name favorites and express a preference for their primary caregiver. Mothers generally desire the one to whom they feel most emotionally close. Another significant bit of criteria for selection of primary caregiver is who lives the closest to the parent. That particular child is more likely to know the current history of the parent so he or she might be the best choice.

Discussions among all of the family members, prior to any caregiving needs, can help to pave the way for good decision making. A parents’ desire should weigh heavily in this process.

Top Five Sibling Caregiver Hot Buttons

Family caregivers know all too well the sensitive issues that can send brothers and sisters into turmoil. Family caregiving can be stressful under any circumstances. But certain situations are hot-button triggers. These events can make the life of caregiving siblings more difficult and lead to family conflicts.

• ILLNESS: A senior loved one who becomes ill or faces declining health can leave a family facing all sorts of potentially difficult issues. Who provides the additional care? Is there a team approach or does one sibling bear the brunt of the caregiving? Family members’ differing opinions and the changing needs of a senior can exacerbate the situation.

• MONEY: Money matters often complicate life for seniors as well as their adult children. The recent recession left many older adults depleted of their savings while others may be outliving their nest eggs. Families can be forced to make tough caregiving decisions when their love ones’ finances factor into the equation.

• INHERITANCE: While some families contend with a lack of funds to provide care for their loved ones, others have the temptation of a family inheritance influencing their decisions. If one sibling is encouraging a parent to spend the siblings’ inheritance and another is coaxing that parent to save the money, trouble is sure to ensue.

• DISTANCE: While absence may make the heart grow fonder, it certainly doesn’t make life easier for a family caregiver. The siblings who live in the same town or city as their parents may be stuck with most of the caregiver work. According to research, one sibling is responsible for the bulk of the care of Mom and Dad in 43 percent of US families. Siblings who live far away can feel left out or, if they do speak up, they are viewed as intruders by the primary family caregiver.

• STRESS: Life is stressful and family caregiving oftentimes makes it more so. Adult caregivers who have started a new job, are raising children or caring for their own spouse can soon become overwhelmed when senior family members need help. Those who are bearing the brunt of caregiving may resent siblings who are unable or unwilling to help. In fact, 46 percent of caregivers who say their sibling relationships have deteriorated say their brothers and sisters are unwilling to help.

For more information including a guide to real-life situations that address the issues above and more, visit www. Solving family conflict. com, call 910-484-7200 or visit the local Home Instead Senior Care office at 2825 Arlington Avenue, Fayetteville, N.C. 28303.

PHOTO: According to research, one sibling is responsible for the bulk of the care of Mom and Dad in 43 percent of US families. 

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