Gary's Guidance: Sibling’s and Aging Parents: Whose Turn Is It When Caring Is Not Fair

July 2014

There are many family dynamics that come into play when adult children become involved in the care giving and decision-making for their mother or father diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Listed below are some common variables that exist which may hinder or actually interfere with siblings working together. Finding solutions to some of these issues will help adult children arrive at providing the necessary care for their parents. In a future edition of Gary’s Guidance a more thorough look at some of these variables will be addressed.

  • Only child vs. larger number of siblings – having more siblings not necessarily better, but having only one adult child has to face responsibilities alone
  • Availability and proximity of siblings
  • Birth order relating to roles and responsibilities (oldest, youngest, “black-sheep” sibling, other)
  • Female sibling gets picked over male sibling (gender stereotyping)
  • Strengths and weakness of siblings
  • Occupational roles in relation to who performs which task
  • Who gets to be the Power of Attorney and is it the right sibling
  • Assignment of responsibilities and who decides what must get done
  • Expectations vs. unspoken expectations among siblings
  • Lack of education and ignorance about dementia
  • Asking for help
  • Not keeping promises
  • Blame, resentment, denial, and guilt
  • Second guessing the other sibling
  • Sharing of vital information and what gets shared and what should not be shared
  • Getting outside help

Gary Kozick, LCSW