Dealing with the pressure to be your parent’s caregiver within a large family
I am the youngest of five siblings, and the only one that is unmarried with no children. Now that my father is suddenly an aging widower (two years ago), I am getting subtle pressure from my siblings to be his caregiver, although I do not live in the city where they all live. Actually I am not a fan of city living. It makes more sense to me for them to hire a caregiver and still pitch in since they all live within 20 minutes of him (three of them actually). I and one other sibling live a day’s trip away. I visit a couple of times a year and stay for at least two weeks each time to help out and provide company and emotional support. And in the interim I call every week and keep in touch by e-mail weekly as well. My siblings seem to think I am indispensable since I live a free-spirited care-free life in their eyes. Yet we are all living the lives we choose to live. I don’t think I should have to uproot my whole life to be our father’s caregiver and just be miserable in the process as I dislike city living. Of course if I was the only one, I would do it in a heartbeat. Yet there are five of us, and three live in the same city as him, all within a 20-minute drive. Am I the only one that sees the logic here?
I suggest you request a meeting with your siblings so you can all sit down together, share your concerns about your father, brainstorm ideas about how to address those concerns, and agree to be honest about your own needs as well as receptive to understanding the needs of the others? Or, if sitting down in person is impractical, maybe you could have a virtual meeting, or a series of meetings using Skype? This situation is not an easy one, but it is common and calls for creativity as well as compassion. I have found that a group of people sharing with mutual respect can often generate new ideas and solutions that wouldn’t necessarily be arrived at by any individual.
Constricting, hard. Green, pulsing but constricting. I went through a similar situation with my family and my younger brother. We had an older brother also, but he passed away shortly before my father. My mom was left needing care. I was the middle child, only daughter. I lived nearby and helped my elderly parents for years. My older brother actually moved in with them at one point to help out. My dad and my brother passed away, leaving my Mom. My younger brother lived a couple states away. Being the youngest sibling, I think there was definitely more freedom for him than any of us. Sort of typical to be the youngest and know the rest have your back. But realistically beyond that, he was capable of doing more and stepping up to the plate so to speak. I had spent many years helping out, and my husband wanted to move away and be free of it. Life is short. Long story short, took two years for us to actually decide to leave. My brother then stepped up. It wasn’t easy. We actually found an angel of a person to move in with my mom. It took awhile to find her, but it was a win/win match of a fit. It was costly though. And my brother made trips in to visit and attend to things either monthly or every other month. It was hard. It was hard on my brother used to having his freedom and less responsibility. It was hard for me being far away and not being physically able to help much. I called my mom and my brother a lot. And helped out long distance with arranging additional needed care at times. I also dealt with feelings of guilt even though I had been there for years. I agree with the previous response that you all definitely need to sit down, pen and paper in hand, and have heart to heart discussions. I would consider the birth order though, and see if that opens anything up for you….?