Hot-Button Triggers!

February 10, 2011

Watch for Hot-Button Triggers When Handling Family Caregiving Topics

” My sister knows exactly what buttons to push!”

An exercise buddy was venting about always being the family caregiver.  She and her siblings cared for their ailing parents prior to their deaths.  And noow, as the youngest of her siblings, she assists in the care of a disabled sister and helps out another sister whenever the call for help is sent out.

“I’ve been a caregiver for 30 years!”, she lamented.

What pushes your hot buttons?

Many Houston-area families find that successful caregiving for seniors and other family members hangs on a tenuous thread that can be sent spinning out of control with the slightest wobble.

Family caregiving can be stressful, under the best of circumstances, but there are scenarios that are “hot-button triggers” for almost every set of siblings that share in family caregiving duties.

Hot-Button Topics

1. Illness. When a senior loved one becomes ill or faces a decline in health it can leave a family facing all sorts of potentially difficult issues. Who provides the extra care? Is there a team approach or does one sibling shoulder the brunt of caregiving? Family members’ differing opinions and the senior’s changing needs can elevate the situation.

2. Money. Money matters often complicate life for seniors as well as their adult children. The recession has left many older adults depleted of their savings and others may be outliving their nest eggs. Families can be forced to make tough caregiving decisions when their loved 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 arise.

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 at their parents may be stuck with most of the caregiver work. According to research conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network, one sibling is responsible for the bulk of the care for their parents in 43 percent of U.S. 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 senior family members need help. Those who are bearing the bulk of caregiving may resent siblings who are unable or unwilling to help. In fact, 46 percent of U.S. caregivers who say their sibling relationships have deteriorated say their brothers and sisters are unwilling to help, according to research conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network.

If you would like to download a guide that highlights real-life situations concerning family caregiving, please visit which focuses on resolving family conflict.

If you have comments or helpful information to share regarding sibling caregiving issues, please post your messages on our board.

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