December 29, 2010
You just received the big promotion you've always dreamed of and, as the youngest and as Mom's presumed favorite, you have taken over the job of her care since she fell. You're struggling with depression and resentment because your brothers and sisters won't step up to help. What do you do?
Caregiver stress can have serious ramifications for the lives of family caregivers. According to a survey conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network, 42% of family caregivers say they spend more than 30 hours a week providing care. That's the equivalent of a second job. This sounds like the situation you are in.
Sometimes siblings have a different view of what constitutes help. Some siblings may not agree with the form of help the primary caregiver thinks is necessary. There may be a disagreement about what the parents need, what they're able to do or the best course of action. Those siblings who won't help are saying, "I won't help on your terms." Or they may think the primary caregiver is offering too much help. These perspectives may also be the result of what's happening in a sibling's life or their relationship with their parents. For example, one sibling may be having problems in their marriage that the family doesn't know about. It's not always as simple as, "My sibling is refusing to help."
You can't do it all, though, and caregiver stress could lead to serious trouble for you and your job. According to the February 2010 MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, employees providing eldercare were more likely to report fair or poor health in general.
Call a meeting with all of your siblings and find out if they are willing to discuss the situation. Why not approach siblings with specific requests for advice, input and assistance? A primary caregiver allocating chores may be unpopular. A group putting their minds to the tasks can come up with better solutions. Have a sense of shared situation and responsibility. And talk to your parents. Make sure that they are not telling your siblings that they don't need help.
Investigate community support options (in-home services, respite care) and use them. Consider hiring paid help if needed. Like all major life transitions, a parent's need for care is challenging, but is a challenge that can be met.
Please download the guide: 50/50 Rule® Brochure (PDF, 950 KB).
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