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Coordinating Care for Parents
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Special contribution from Barbara Kane, LCSW-C and Linda Hill, LCSW-C, of Aging Network Services

As geriatric social workers, we work with adult brothers and sisters who are caring for their aging parents. They are often reengaging with one another in very intense circumstances, sometimes after decades of being focused more on their own families than on their family of origin.  The stakes are usually high, as can be the associated emotions and opinions about how to best help their parents. As they sit in our Bethesda office, sometimes with one or two siblings on a conference call, they may silently wonder whether they are even going to continue a sibling relationship once this last parent dies. The process is never easy, but once we have a plan of care in place, siblings frequently look at one another with a rush of gratitude and maybe even a new respect.
 
Coordinating care for aging and ill parents is difficult for many adult siblings and frequently reawakens old wounds and conflicts. The presenting problem is not the sibling relationship; it is the effective care of the aging parents. Still, working to resolve issues related to taking care of their parents may offer siblings a fresh opportunity to resolve past conflicts.
 
Division of Roles
 
We often find that discussing roles and responsibilities is an opportunity to coach siblings on how they can work together more effectively. In a consultation, we may interrupt them to show healthier ways of communicating, both listening and talking. With siblings, we point out that each has different temperaments. We work to help them acknowledge and respect these complementary differences and the strengths of both.
 
After a couple of sibling sessions with the help of our coaching, we advise siblings to continue these meetings on a regular basis themselves.  Perhaps monthly meetings which they can regard as care planning discussions or business meetings is a good way to check in with each other.  
 
Here are some questions that siblings may use to guide them in their discussions:
  • Do you feel that I have been doing enough?
  • Do you feel that I have been doing too much?
  • Is there anything that I have said or emailed over the last month that bothered you?
  • Do you feel that I have asked you for approval for big care decisions during the last month?
  • Do we need to revise our division of labor?
  • Do you feel I have been respectful of you in tone and action?
  • Have we communicated enough over the last month?
  • Are any old wounds festering?
  • Overall, how do you feel we are doing as a team?
It may seem that monthly meetings are not necessary.  But even if the aging parent is quite stable, sibling relationships need to remain on an even keel throughout this journey of caregiving.  Many families are split by geographical distance and it is often the out of town sibling who has the harder time with feeling out of the circle of care. These meetings, even over the phone, can go a long way towards keeping all the siblings feeling good about each other and the work they are doing together.
 
For this may be the last time that adult siblings have such a profound reason to come together.
ANS Co-founders Barbara Kane and Grace Lebow (retired) have written an especially useful self-help book on how to smooth communications with a challenging parent. Click here to buy the book on Amazon
ANS SEMINARS FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS:
  • Hard to Face Conversations Between You and Your Aging Parents
  • Caregiver Stress
  • Caregiver Traps and Resistance
  • Making the Transition to Residential Care
  • Dad’s Still Driving and Other Dilemmas for Grown Children
  • Mom Wants Only Me
  • Improving Your Role as Caregiver
  • Mom’s Moving, Now What?
  • Mom’s Move/Your Adjustment
  • Three Part Series – Guilt, Denial, Anxiety
Contact ANS:
301-657-4329
ans@agingnetworkservices.com
The Cottage at Curry Manor in the News

The refined residential living for seniors location in Bethesda is featured on page 27 in the Washington Beacon this month ... read more

(pictured is Suite 8 at The Cottage)
World Salt Awareness Week Coming in February

We are still well away from the global maximum salt limit of 5g per day so the goal of this year's World Salt Awareness Week will be asking all food companies to think with their hearts and add less salt!
We provide the best care available to clients and families with varying needs. Our team of nurses, nursing assistants, and care providers offers the following services:Care Assessment
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Any question, any time, no matter where you are in your journey, one of our experienced care coordinators is available to listen and provide answers.

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Capital City Nurses serves the greater Washington, Northern Virginia, Baltimore and Annapolis areas including the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and Delaware. We work with your schedule and come to you, wherever you are.

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