Whether you’re a family caregiver or have siblings providing the supportive care your parents need, it’s important to support each other. If you’re the caregiver, you need to be honest with your brothers and sisters. If they’re caring for your parents because you live in another area, ask them to tell you what you can do to help. These four areas are often the most helpful.
Stop and Listen
Sometimes, family caregivers just need a chance to vent. Be the person that your brother or sister can vent to. Don’t judge and don’t criticize. Offer advice if you have it. Otherwise, just let your sibling vent as often as is needed.
Provide Surprises From Time to Time
If you live close enough, stop by with dinner and drinks. Send a box of chocolates or favorite treats to your sibling’s house. Other gifts like flowers, a gift certificate to a favorite store, or a new book by a favorite author are all thoughtful gifts that will be appreciated.
When these gifts or actions are completely unexpected, it’s especially rewarding. It lets your sibling know you appreciate everything they do.
Make Sure They’re Taking Breaks
Don’t let your brother or sister do so much that caregiver burnout becomes a problem. Caring for a parent is kind, but it can’t be a 24/7, year-round situation. Breaks are essential.
If you live nearby, make sure your sibling gets away once a week. If you live farther away, respite care services from a home care agency are an important discussion your family needs to have.
Handle Tasks That Can Be Done Online
When you live too far away to stop by, you can still help out. Ask what can be done online. If your sister is about to start researching the latest Medicare rates and sign your dad up, offer to do it for her. If a hospital bill doesn’t seem right, offer to spend time on the phone sorting it out.
You can pay bills online, research insurance coverage and rates, and look up prescription medication contraindications and side effects. All of these are things you can do on your own at your house and email the results to others in the family. With input, services and subscriptions can easily be arranged.
If you’re the family caregiver, make sure you have the support you need. Respite care is important as it makes it possible to take breaks. If your siblings are family caregivers because you live in another state or country, make sure you’re supporting them as best you can by helping them arrange to take breaks and doing all you can to help out from your home.