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Navigating the Challenges of Supporting Aging Parents When Siblings Live Far Apart

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

As our parents age, the responsibility of caring for them often falls on adult siblings. However, when one sibling lives far away while another resides close to the aging parent, a range of challenges can arise. The sibling who is physically closer often shoulders the majority of the caregiving responsibilities, leading to potential feelings of resentment. In this article, we will explore these challenges and provide tips on effective communication and fair distribution of caregiving duties to maintain harmony among adult siblings.

1. Acknowledge and Address Feelings:

Resentment, guilt, blame, and jealousy are common emotions in such situations. It's crucial for siblings to acknowledge these feelings and address them openly, honestly, and compassionately. Encourage open dialogue to foster understanding and find mutually agreeable solutions.

2. Promote Effective Communication:

Effective communication is vital to prevent misunderstandings and build a strong foundation for cooperation. Regular family meetings, whether in-person or virtual, can provide a platform for discussing responsibilities, sharing concerns, and brainstorming solutions. Utilize technology like video calls and shared online calendars to involve distant siblings in decision-making processes.

3. Embrace the Strength of Remote Siblings:

Although distance may limit physical involvement, remote siblings can still contribute significantly to their aging parent's care. They can assist with financial management, research healthcare options, provide emotional support, and coordinate local resources. Recognizing and appreciating the unique contributions of each sibling can help mitigate feelings of imbalance and resentment.

4. Explore Community Resources:

Familiarize yourself with local community resources that can support your aging parent. Home healthcare services, support groups, and respite care can alleviate the burden on sibling living nearby. By utilizing these resources, you can distribute responsibilities more evenly and reduce the strain on one sibling.

5. Establish a Caregiving Plan:

Developing a comprehensive caregiving plan can help siblings distribute responsibilities fairly. Discuss and document sibling's strengths, availability, and limitations. Create a schedule that ensures everyone has a role to play and can take breaks when needed. This approach establishes clear expectations and minimizes the potential for feelings of resentment or guilt.

6. Seek Professional Services:

If the coordination of support becomes challenging and overwhelming, it might be helpful to engage a professional service to seek guidance and referrals towards creating a more realistic support plan for your parent. An Eldercare Planner can help facilitate discussions and offer their expertise towards creating a plan that will best support your parent's wishes and needs. Siblings can also connect to a caregiver community that will support and connect them to a directory of products and services that help them on their caregiver journey.

7. Delegate Tasks:

Bring in outside service providers for support, such as house cleaning services, meal delivery programs, or exploring homesharing options, can relieve the caregiver's stress and free up valuable time. It allows the adult sibling to focus on crucial tasks and maintain a meaningful relationship with their parent, while ensuring their parent's well-being when they can't be present.

8. Foster Self-Care:

Caring for an aging parent can be emotionally and physically demanding. Encourage siblings to prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. This includes setting boundaries, delegating tasks, seeking support from friends and support groups, and engaging in activities that bring them joy and relief. Taking care of themselves enables them to be more present and effective in their caregiving roles.

Supporting an aging parent when siblings live far apart presents unique challenges that can strain relationships. However, by addressing negative emotions, promoting effective communication, exploring community resources, and establishing a fair caregiving plan, siblings can work together more harmoniously. Remember, a united front built on open communication, mutual understanding, and shared responsibilities will ultimately provide the best care for your aging parents while safeguarding the bonds between siblings.

HomeShare Alliance creates personalized homeshare plans for families with parents wishing to age-in-place. Contact our team of HomeShare Consultants to ensure peace of mind for siblings, whether near or far, through tailored solutions that foster harmony and security in shared living arrangements.

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