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As our parents age, we may start to notice that they need help to maintain an independent and good quality of life. However, caring for your parents or another loved one can often be more than one person can handle alone. Having siblings, in this situation, can be a blessing, but not all siblings will leave near to the parent or have a desire/willingness to help. In this article, we’ll explore some ways to create a productive and shared plan to coordinate family care for a more equitable distribution of activity.

Tips to Coordinate Family Care

  1. Be Considerate in Family Discussions. Caring for an aging and/or ailing parent or loved one is a difficult task both physically and emotionally. It’s very likely that not everyone will have the same opinions or feelings about the care that you do. There will be tough decisions ahead and not everyone will agree on how to move forward.

    Group discussions are most productive when everyone is treated with respect and has an equal opportunity to voice an opinion. Work together to come up with a mutually agreeable set of decisions.

    The goal of these family discussions is to get everyone involved in care. Pushing one opinion too strongly may be counterproductive – isolating someone from the decision-making process may make them unwilling to participate down the line.
  2. Create an Equitable Task List. The list of tasks that need to be handled will range depending on your parent or loved one’s condition(s) and age. Work with their doctor or primary care team to put together an exhaustive list of tasks that should be handled. Once it’s been put together, estimate the time/effort commitment and cost attached to each task. Then organize and assign the tasks based on your siblings’ availability, abilities, and financial situation in a way that is equitable.

    The most important thing is that each sibling contributes in a way that is meaningful. If there’s a sibling who lives far away, they may be able to hire a professional caregiver on a regular basis who can alleviate the other siblings’ duties for a break from time to time (see: respite care).

    Once you’ve come to an agreement, put it all in writing. Ensure there’s no confusion or miscommunication on what was decided moving forward.
  3. Create a Group Chat and Communicate Often. Using WhatsApp, a Facebook Group, Google Calendar, or caregiving focused communication tool like LotsaHelpingHands, create a schedule and stay in frequent communication with each other in regards to care. By staying up to date, everyone can rest easy knowing nothing has slipped through the cracks and your parents are well cared for.

    You should also schedule meetings on a regular basis to touch base to ensure that, as your parents’ needs change, your family is able to adjust and adapt as needed.
  4. Discuss Financial and Legal Issues Well in Advance. The details that are awkward to discuss upfront are some of the most critical to avoid frustration and heartbreak later down the line.

    Setting up advanced directives with your loved one is one way to clarify important medical decisions in advance of an emergency. Finding a certified elder law attorney can help with setting up the legal documents needed to handle the potential contingencies of care in advance.

    Similarly, a certified family financial planner may be helpful in creating contingency plans for more advanced care down the line. They also may be able to help you find financial resources and other options you may not have considered to keep the financial burden low and equitable.

Closing Thoughts

By following these helpful tips for care, siblings can work together to create a fair distribution of work and open communication to avoid messy situations down the line. Caregiving as a team has a lot of benefits for both your parent or loved one and you as their caregiver.  We hope you found this list helpful to your journey as a family headed into caregiving.

The role of caregiver is always tough, but you’re part of a large, strong, and helpful community of people including and beyond your family who have been in your shoes. The California Caregiver Resource Centers were created with you both in mind and at heart to be a free resource as you navigate the challenging role you’re in. We would love to connect you with your local Center, which can talk more about local programs and support groups for caregivers, answer your questions, and explain how they can best support you.

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