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Top Five Sibling Caregiver Hot Buttons

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Family caregivers know all too well the sensitive issues that can send brothers and sisters into turmoil. Family caregiving may 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 conflict.

The 50-50 Rule® public education program can help address the following hot-button issues with effective communication skills:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 conducted for the Home Instead Senior® network, one sibling is responsible for the bulk of the care of mom and dad in more than 40 percent of families. Siblings who live far away can feel left out or, if they do speak up, viewed as intruders by the primary family caregiver.

  5. 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 elderly family members need help. Those who are bearing the brunt of caregiving may resent siblings who are unable or unwilling to help.

Please download the guide: 50/50 Rule® Brochure (PDF 950K).

Last revised: December 22, 2010

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. October 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Posted by Amy Frederick

    My husband passed in Nov 2015 after not seeing the signs i should have seen earlier, then when he passed, my parents needed care, so moved in with them, my sister had power of attorney and between the 4 of us, and my dads careful planning, they lived out their lives without burdening us. Dad paid for the cemetery plot, stone and funeral expenses so none of us had to worry about it. My moving in with them took some of the burden off the rest, my poor older sister had to deal with the legality of it all. but by the Grace of God, we did the best we could!!


    • July 15, 2020 at 9:24 am | Posted by Mary Stewart

      It's wonderful to have siblings that assist. Between my siblings and my husband's we took care of all of our parents. I've been blessed by having their support, even when they didn't fully understand all the decisions until later. Thank God for them on a daily basis; we are some of the lucky few!!


  2. October 26, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Posted by Sherry Johnson

    I was the care giver for my Dear Husband until the last year if his life. Watching this smart, confident man disappear before my eyes was the hardest thing I have ever done. This journey of no return ( as we called it) was very hard, but the fact that I had step children made it even more difficult. They rarely visited, one of them visited only once during the last 4 years of his life. She was always ready to criticize every thing I did; especially after my husband passed away. I miss him so very much , but I am thankful he is whole again & in his heavenly home. I continue to pray for a cure & all those on that difficult journey. May God bless them with peace & blessings.??????


  3. October 26, 2017 at 11:39 am | Posted by Shirley Hauck

    My mom lives in long-term care with end-stage Alzheimer’s. My sister and I have been her caregivers for the last couple of years. My brother lives away and has not seen our mom for over a year and a half. However, he has the power of attorney And controls us and what money we can access for mom’s needs. It is a power thing on his part and he makes our lives very difficult, more difficult than it needs to be during this terrible time. Our relationships with him is permanently severed. Caregivers should have access to some money so as not have to beg for every dime. This has been terribly Stressful for the entire family. If my mom only knew……


  4. February 27, 2015 at 3:36 am | Posted by Sandy Carpio

    My boys and I were caregivers for my parents and we took on all the caregiving responsibilities for both my parents. It basically started when I was 19. My mom got very sick. Her blood pressure was 280/180 and had to be rushed to the ER. Long story short, my siblings, who were 37, 35, 33, and 27 made me go in and talk to my mom's doctor. My father did also. The caregiving continued until they passed away in 2008. 3 years after my parents died, I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.


  5. July 7, 2011 at 6:19 am | Posted by Letitia

    These pieces really set a standard in the industry.


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