Asking Siblings To Help Care For an Aging Parent With Bipolar

Last Updated: 28 Jun 2019

Taking care of a parent with bipolar can be challenging on its own, but having siblings that don’t chip in their share can lead to grudges. Here’s how to cope:

Taking on the workload

It’s quite a difficult thing if we find ourselves the sole caregivers to an aging parent who has bipolar, while our sibling(s) live out of town. It can be even more frustrating if our family members live close but really offer little support. It can be difficult to reign in the resentment for being the only one taking on the load and sacrificing our own time, at times at the expense of caregiver burnout.  

A common problem

You are not alone! It may be reassuring to know that, while the particulars may be different, the family situation you’re in is quite common, in that sharing the caregiving duties are rarely equitable among siblings. In many families, it’s generally the daughter who bears the brunt of the sacrifices in taking care of mom or dad. It’s also natural for a sibling who lives far away to live with extreme guilt for not being there to offer help. Also, there is frequently a build-up of resentment with the sole caregiver not getting a hand from her family members.

Open communication

Often times we expect those in our family to step up to the plate and naturally chip in to help—without having to be asked. There are roles that are assumed, but not talked about and then misunderstandings happen, which leads to hurt feelings. Experts recommend that family members make a real effort, despite any past disagreements, to have open and honest conversations about dividing up the tasks. You may need to explain that it’s important your feelings and the details of what you’re going through are heard so you can feel understood.

Check your expectations

If your sibling lives far from you and is not able to provide much help, there’s a good chance he or she is dealing with a lot of guilt for the limited role in helping, but you and your parent. Even those family members who live close by but whose lives are stressful with children activities and overtime at work can still feel extremely badly they aren’t able to step up to the plate. It may come down to realizing you will receive support whenever your sibling can manage it.

Asking for help

There are many family dynamics where siblings live in the same city, perhaps with little personality responsibilities, and still, they sit on the sidelines. It can surely be awkward and even strain the relationship when you are always the one reaching out, asking for help. What may work best is, instead of piece meal-type requests for help, sit down and work out a permanent schedule or responsibilities and tasks.

Source: AARP

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