Helping a Sibling Care for an Elderly Parent

older woman on a ride with her family caregiver

By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer

If you have a sister or brother who bears responsibility for the care of one or both of your parents, such a situation can cause unease between you as siblings. The person who is the main caregiver can feel isolated or resentful. You, on the other hand, might feel guilt over not doing more. You also might be hesitant to offer help, in fear that it might not be welcomed. Perhaps you are worried that any attempts to help could appear pushy or controlling.


It’s important to recognize that both parties are in a difficult situation. And it’s crucial that you discuss what’s going on. Doing so will give you a better idea of how you can best help your sibling and contribute to your parent’s care.

Reach out and ask

Even the simple step of asking how you can help is a great first step. It shows your sibling that you recognize the responsibility they carry as a caregiver, and it opens the door to further dialogue.

There are plenty of ways you can help, but you first need to understand which actions would be the most helpful to your sibling. You might have the desire to rush in and save the day, but if that disrupts an already established routine, it can be more harmful than helpful. Before you act, always ask your sibling where your help would be most valuable.

Practical help

There are numerous ways to give practical help to a sibling who is a caregiver:

  • Offer respite care so that your sibling can take some time out for other activities and his or her own self-care. If this can be arranged regularly it can help to alleviate caregiver stress and burnout (learn more about caregiver burnout and how to deal with it by clicking HERE).
  • You can assist with the tasks of running a home, including shopping, meal preparation, laundry, and housekeeping.
  • Support with driving duties is often welcomed, especially for medical appointments and regular outings.
  • If needed by your parents, you could assist with personal care, such as bathing, grooming, toileting, and exercise.

Emotional support

In addition to practical help, you can also offer emotional support for your sibling.

Family caregivers might need a sounding board for concerns they have. They also might feel frustrated and will need share and vent those feelings with someone. They might need someone to lift their spirits when they are feeling drained or worn down by the situation. You can be the person your sibling turns to in such emotional times of need.

Medical and legal decision making

Some older adults will need to attend numerous medical appointments and may be suffering from one or more health conditions. If you can attend medical appointments alongside your sibling, it can help them not bear the brunt of decision-making all alone. It’s always helpful to discuss such big life decisions with someone else. A sibling makes the ideal partner for this, as you both want the best for your mom and/or dad.

There will be several legal documents that need to be considered when you are caring for an older adult, such as financial wills, living wills, trusts, medical directives, and “Do Not Resuscitate” orders. Having siblings onboard with a voice in this process can help make sure that all are aware of your parents’ wishes and how their wishes will be carried out.

Financial help

If a sibling is the main caregiver, this can also have a big impact on his or her own financial situation. Family caregivers might be unable to work due to their responsibilities to the care of a parent. They might also have to pay out of their own pocket for things your mom or dad need. It’s best to have an open conversation about the costs regarding the care of your loved ones and see how you can best contribute, so that your sibling doesn’t carry all of the financial burden.

Find support for your sibling

A well-received gift might be some respite support for your sibling. Professional in-home care services can be a great solution, as it can be accessed as and when needed. If you live in the Chicago or Denver areas, you’ll find such help available from Care & Comfort at Home. We provide a wide range of important in-home care services that can help support your sibling. Click HERE to learn more!

There are many ways you can lend a hand to a sibling that cares for your parents. By working together as a team, you can share the responsibilities and help provide the best care possible for your loved ones.