Being a caregiver is never easy, even with the support of siblings or other family members to share responsibilities.  Families typically do not have a set plan in place when the time comes to determine who will do what for an aging parent or loved one in need of care.  There are many factors that go into deciding how caregiving duties will be divvied up, including the number of people involved, their talents and interests (such as handling finances vs. spending time visiting), their ability to contribute time and money, and their location.

To avoid conflict or tension surrounding caregiving duties, here are some things to keep in mind as you begin caring for a loved one:

  1. Keep communication lines open: sharing information is crucial when multiple people are involved with the care of a loved one.  All people should be on the same page about the diagnosis and action plan moving forward, and communication should be regular via email, phone calls or family meetings.

  2. Take time to get on the same page: if there is no emergency, it’s wise to take time to address any concerns or issues with family members, making sure everyone is ready to move forward with the same plan together.

  3. Put aside family differences: the stress of caregiving can often resurface old family issues.  If siblings can coordinate caregiving efforts, the better the outcome for their parent or loved one; if they’re busy arguing or bringing up past problems, however, it’s much harder to be an effective caregiver.  The main goal should always be taking care of the family member in need, not trying to outdo or upstage anyone else in the support system.

  4. Fine-tune the plan: as the situation evolves over time, the caregiving plan should change as well.  Ensuring that everyone is still on board with the current action plan is important for the long-term health and happiness of all involved.  Make it a point to have quarterly meetings to discuss everything that is working (and what isn’t).

  5. Recognize that everyone is different:  when it comes to caregiving and tough times, everyone handles situations in a different way.  Be mindful that what may be easy for one person may be more difficult for another, and it’s up to each person to decide what they feel comfortable doing and how they can help.  The bottom is line is that everyone is in it together – remember that during the tough times!

What are your top tips for sharing caregiving duties with loved ones?