Rules of Engagement for Adult Children Caregivers


Normal families have sibling conflict … and can only expect that to escalate when it comes to caregiving. I (and my siblings) was incredibly lucky. We had our heated debates, but managed to navigate our journey and actually emerge as more connected adults. I have come to see how incredibly rare our family outcome is. Maybe it was because we were losing both parents to dementia simultaneously, maybe because we actually all lived in different parts of the county … or maybe just because it was a testament to how our parents raised us.

I was the baby of the family and am not typically the one to be the primary adult caregiver. But I was the only one that was local.

When we began to have disagreements over things I thought had simple solutions, I proposed some working rules for us to work together and that we adopted. They were:

  1. Spouses are invited to participate, but only direct descendants vote.
  2. It’s okay to disagree, but not okay to be disagreeable.
  3. Majority rules on any vote unless it impacts any of us financially. If the outcome of the vote impacts us financially, the vote must be unanimous.

We also had a general agreement that we wouldn’t discuss issues outside the family meetings. It made us talk and think through all of the issues, emotions, and complications together.

At the time, we used an online site for free teleconferencing called TalkShoe. The calls helped eliminate misunderstandings and have a better understanding of how we were each approaching and dealing with the loss of our parents.

In an effort to reconnect, we recently are having sibling calls using a video conference option called Zoom.

This is no easy journey. The worse outcome is that you not only lose a parent, but you fracture other family relationships as you are all dealing with the stress, grief, and frustration of being adult family caregivers. May you find a way to make it work for your family. Shared. 

One thought on “Rules of Engagement for Adult Children Caregivers

  1. Thanks for sharing, Kay. It can be so difficult to watch one parent struggle with dementia, so having both parents living with the disorder can be doubly distressing. I am so glad that you’ve been able to sustain your sense of humor through all this. It is the little moments of smiles and laughter that remain as positive memories, even during the most difficult periods of life. I have also found that using the services of a home care nurse helps. It takes a huge load off your shoulders, leaving you free to create more positive memories.

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