The Biggest Sibling Issue Surrounding Caregiving For Aging Parents

Caregiving for aging parents is a tough job. It’s done with a lot of love and self-sacrifice. However, even those positive attributes can get challenged because of issues with siblings.

Caregiving for Aging Parents

Sibling conflicts arising out of caring for aging parents can take many forms. In some cases, one sibling may become overly critical of how another sibling is handling care. In other cases, old sibling rivalries could assert themselves, leading to the children attempting to out-do one another.

But perhaps the worst scenario involves a sibling who simply does not offer help of any kind.

Unfortunately, this is often the case. One sibling assumes the greatest burden in caregiving. This can lead to resentment, frustration and anger. In the worst cases, it can lead to words being said that are later regretted.

Here’s a closer look at the issue. Also, some potential solutions.

If you face this issue below or any other caregiving-related challenge, remember that Hope Grows offers support to caregivers in a variety of ways. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Sibling Not Helping With Care

Longstanding family issues can impact caregiving. In some cases, a sibling does not want to help with caregiving for elderly parents. This leads to a situation where one sibling is handling most of the caregiving duties.

It’s not fair, of course, to the caregiver left with the burden. Resentment can build over time. This can even build up to anger over time. This is especially true if the sibling lives nearby.

However, it’s often the case where siblings cannot resolve deeply rooted issues a child might have with a parent. Frustration with the situation could lead the caregiving child to say things they might eventually regret. Fighting among siblings is an unfortunate consequence of caregiving in some cases.

Rather than let old wounds fester, consider some of the following options.

Family Meeting

Set a time for every sibling to meet, whether in person, a video conference or a telephone call. Take the time to write down every issue that needs discussing before the call takes place. Rather than talking about “doing it all,” write down specific issues such as transportation, housework, yard work, medical visits, financial commitments, etc. Make sure every task is listed as well as options to handle them.

Keep in mind that this meeting should be like a business meeting in many respects. Try to keep emotion out of it.


This is the part when emotions do come in. It’s important for each sibling to have a chance to voice their feelings. Make sure to state your feelings about what you can handle in terms of caregiving tasks. But also listen closely to what the other children have to say. Stay open to their opinions and ideas. You want to be as flexible with them as you want them to be with you.

Emphasize Teamwork

At times, there are issues between siblings and the parent that simply cannot get resolved by the other siblings. Nor should they take on the burden of trying. However, it can be helpful to focus on the siblings helping each other out in a caregiving situation. Even a sibling with longstanding issues with a parent may become more willing to help if they see it as a chance to help out their siblings.

Divide Tasks

Another step is to break caregiving for aging parents down into separate tasks and then consider who can do each one. This obviously depends on where a person lives. But even a person who lives at a great distance can handle legal and medical paperwork issues, if they have that skill. And that’s the key. Attempt to divide up tasks based on skill and expertise.

However, do not go into this expecting an equal distribution of caregiving responsibilities. That’s not possible in the best of circumstances.


Keep everyone in the loop. Find a way to offer frequent updates through phone calls, text message groups or an online option such as Google chat. Try to set up a time to talk through decisions well before they need to be made. This can include issues such as medical care, housing options and the selling of property, to name just a few.

These are some of the options to keep in mind. It’s reasonable to hope that siblings will put away old issues and work toward helping with the challenges of caregiving for aging parents, but that is simply not always the case.

Try your best to put aside such issues and move forward with what has to be done, but use some of the above suggestions to make the situation progress more smoothly.

Leave a Reply