Siblings Won’t Help With Elderly Parents – The Caring Generation®

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The Caring Generation® – Episode 30 March 11, 2020 On this caregiver radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, empathizes with caregivers who say Siblings Won’t Help with Elderly Parents; siblings refuse to share caregiving roles and responsibilities. Guest Eden Ruiz-Lopez Assistant Deputy Director of the National Center on Elder Abuse Talks about Elder Abuse and Neglect. What to do when elderly parents ignore self-care or when family members commit elder abuse.

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Siblings Won’t Help With Elderly Parents Radio Show Transcript


00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host, Pamela D. Wilson, is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.


00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. Our topic for this radio show is, Siblings Won’t Help with Elderly Parents. How many of you can believe that? A couple of caregivers actually gave me this subject for the show tonight. Caregivers tell me that they are tired of doing everything. How many of you feel like this? You work, take care of your family, care for aging parents. Caring for elderly parents involves long days and project-filled weekends. Where in your busy week is time for you when siblings won’t help with elderly parents?

01:48 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregiving roles and responsibilities arise unexpectedly. Siblings rarely talk about who will accept the responsibility to care for mom or dad. One son or daughter usually steps in and accepts all the caregiving roles and responsibilities. One child usually becomes the primary caregiver. In talking about siblings who won’t help with elderly parents, we will look at excuses made by our brothers and sisters who won’t help with our elderly parents. We’ll also look at birth order. How birth order affects siblings and family caregiver relationships. And I’ll share tips for sharing caregiving roles and responsibilities with siblings. My guest for this program is Eden Ruiz-Lopez, Assistant Deputy Director for the National Center for Elder Abuse at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. The National Center for Elder Abuse, known as NCEA, is dedicated to the prevention of elder mistreatment. They work with the National Adult Protective Services Association and other groups to ensure that older adults live independently without abuse, neglect, or exploitation. NCEA’s website is

The Caregiving Trap: Adult Child and Parent Relationships

03:06 Pamela D. Wilson: In this interview with Eden, we’ll talk about self-neglect by elderly parents who live alone, and the other side, elderly abuse committed by family members and others. Let’s return to the subject of siblings who won’t help with elderly parents and how this happens. Elderly parents don’t plan to become ill or need care. The idea of caring for mom or dad and caregiving roles and responsibilities are rarely discussed within families, of course, until something happens. When that emergency happens, like a fall down the steps, a broken hip, a heart attack, the most responsible child shows up. Unexpected caregiving events lead to a sequence of events that may relate to helping with household tasks, with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing or physical assistance, walking, mobility. Health and medical care may be a need. Mom or dad may now need help with picking up, organizing, and taking medications, operating medical equipment, or they may have to change their diet because of a medical diagnosis.

04:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Add to these caregiving roles and responsibilities, becoming an educated and engaged caregiver, communicating with doctors, making appointments, and dealing with insurance companies. It’s enough to drive us crazy. Becoming an unexpected caregiver also involves bringing up the subject of who will handle financial and legal matters. I feel like I’m an owl, who, who, who? (chuckle) These caregiving roles and responsibilities can’t wait. Discussing caregiving roles and responsibilities should be an immediate discussion to avoid concerns about those siblings who won’t help with elderly parents. Elderly parents may have tried to have this conversation earlier, maybe the children didn’t want to listen or participate. One child may have noticed concerns with mom or dad and tried to talk to siblings, who denied that anything is wrong. And guess what? Today, it’s these siblings who won’t help with elderly parents. They’re in denial. For the primary caregiver, the idea of doing everything by myself becomes a frustration and a burden. Overly competent caregivers make caregiving roles and responsibilities look easy. Siblings probably think that being a caregiver for elderly parents isn’t all that difficult.

05:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Those of you who are caregivers, you know better. One of my favorite sayings is, only a caregiver knows what another caregiver goes through. As the primary caregiver, talking about caregiving roles and responsibilities before needs continue to increase is necessary. I know. You’re hearing this and thinking, “Why do I have to do everything by myself?” That thought, “Why do I have to do everything by myself when siblings won’t help with elderly parents,” is precisely the reason to schedule a conversation about caregiving roles and responsibilities with your brothers and sisters. Think of this conversation like a business meeting. You are the facilitator who recognizes the care needs of elderly parents. The meeting is not about confronting siblings who won’t help with elderly parents. The gathering is to involve your siblings who won’t help with elderly parents. Let me prepare you for a few possible responses from those siblings who aren’t helping. “No time, no money. Ugh! I can’t bear to visit mom or dad and see them in poor health. I have my own health issues to manage. You seem like you’re managing fine. Why should I get involved? Do what you think. Mom or dad never treated me or us very well. Why on earth should we help them? I live 1,000 miles away. There’s nothing I can do.” All of these excuses and more.

06:55 Pamela D. Wilson: If you’re way down the road and you didn’t have this conversation in the early stages of accepting caregiving roles and responsibilities, that’s okay. It’s never too early or too late to have a conversation about and with siblings who won’t help with elderly parents. Pick up the phone, send emails, do whatever it takes to schedule a meeting in person or over the telephone. Very important. Let your parents know that you are scheduling this meeting with siblings who won’t help with your elderly parent. But don’t tell your siblings that you had this conversation with your parents, at least, initially. Do you wonder why? Because you want to see which brother or sister will run to mommy or daddy to tell on you. Which brother or sister will say that you are being bossy about holding a meeting about caregiving roles and responsibilities? Remember back to when you were children. When siblings come together to care for elderly parents, many childhood habits and behaviors return, both good and bad.

08:04 Pamela D. Wilson: We will continue this conversation about caregiving roles and responsibilities and siblings who won’t help with elderly parents in the second half of this show. Up next, Eden Ruiz-Lopez from the National Center on Elder Abuse, NCEA, at the Keck School of Medicine at USC joins us to talk about elder abuse and neglect. Are any of your family members abusing your elderly parents or grandparents? Or is your elderly parent not quite taking as good care of him or herself as they should? We’ll talk about elder abuse reporting. You can find The Caring Generation shows for listening and the show transcripts on my website at Click on the media tab and then scroll down to The Caring Generation radio show tab. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation live with you on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.


11:28 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. With us is Eden Ruiz-Lopez, Assistant Deputy Director for the National Center for Elder Abuse at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Eden, thank you for joining us.

11:52 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: All right, so happy to be here with you this evening.

11:55 Pamela D. Wilson: So when people think about elder abuse, the thought is usually abuse by another person. Let’s start by talking about self-neglect by a senior who may live alone. What are the signs?

12:08 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So, in general, elder abuse is a term referring to any known intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older person. Laws and definitions of elder abuse do vary state from state. Not all states actually recognize the term self-neglect, or screen for it in intervention efforts or direct response efforts. It may be perceived as rather a form of neglect because there is a failure or refusal for a person in an older person’s life to actually provide essentials. For example, some of the essentials are food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene needs, maybe medication, comfort, personal safety. And this is all based on an implied or agreed-upon responsibility in exchange with an older person.

13:03 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Some common symptoms of neglect include bedsores, unattended medical needs, perhaps someone has a disheveled appearance. Evidence of poor hygiene and sometimes unusual or unexplained weight loss are evidence of malnutrition. So to put it into perspective, I’d like all the listeners to picture these types of scenarios. So, a person lying in their own urine or feces for extended periods of time, a person being malnourished or having pressure sores due to a lack of appropriate care, a person that appears dirty, maybe they have elongated nails, and they’re living in healthy environments, or perhaps a person living in a hazardous or unsafe living conditions, they might have improper wiring, no heat, or no running water.

13:57 Pamela D. Wilson: Thanks for sharing those visuals. That does make it easier to understand. So let’s say that a son or daughter notices self-neglect. Elderly parent is saying, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong.” Maybe we’re thinking there’s some memory loss, and the parent won’t go to the doctor, and they’re making bad decisions. What would be the next step for that son or daughter?

14:18 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So what I want everyone to realize is that whether or not it’s something that they’d like to hear is that everyone has a right to self-determination. It’s not easy to wrap your mind around it. But all of us have that right to govern our own lives, and we have the capacity to make choices or decisions that may, at times not serve in our own best interest. So, based on the scenario that you painted here, it’s in a child’s best interest to act as an advocate on their parent’s behalf and perhaps explore social service-related services. I would suggest having a full evaluation or perhaps a capacity assessment performed to document if the older person has the capacity to make their own decision. If they require assistance with making immediate decisions about their finances and medical care, it’s actually possible to establish something called the healthcare proxy or powers of attorney. And what those can do is help an older person manage financial and healthcare decision.

15:19 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: A longer-term solution that may be costly, sometimes controversial, and it can also be labor intensive is petitioning for guardianship or conservatorship. And something that I actually might go into a little bit later. But it’s something to consider whether a child or caregiver is situated near or far is that there are programs developed to intervene in instances of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. So what I want to continue to emphasize is that it is not your responsibility to prove that abuse is occurring. However, you do want to keep in mind to report suspicions of abuse to local law enforcement or its programs, such as adult protective services, if the elder person resides in the community. Likewise ombudsman are resident advocates for people residing in long-term care settings.

16:13 Pamela D. Wilson: And you kind of are leading to my next question. So sometimes, other people, like neighbors or professionals, notice self-neglect, states have elder abuse reporting laws. Who do we call?

16:25 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So any person who has assumed a full or intermittent responsibility for the care or custody of an older person or a person with the disability, whether or not they have been paid for their role are considered mandated reporters. And this is really where areas and rules will vary from state to state. This can include anyone from administrators, supervisors, any licensed staff, or a public or private facility. Honestly, in the state of California where I’m situated, everyone under the sun is considered a mandated reporter. And what people really have to take into consideration is that the failure of a mandated reporter to report any form of abuse can result in fines and prison time. We do have a wonderful website called the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement that wasn’t just designed for law enforcement or prosecutors, but it offers a wealth of information and resources available for families and other professionals. And you could go to the website and you could click on a button or on the home screen called state-specific laws. And based on whatever state you’re in, either Colorado, California, or New York, you’ll see a list of laws that you can refer to.

17:42 Pamela D. Wilson: And can you report that website one more time?

17:44 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Sure, it’s the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement.

17:53 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay, I will mention that again. And that has state information that people can look up.

17:58 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Perfect.

18:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Perfect. Okay, we are getting ready to go out to a break, but I want to ask you when we come back, so think about this, I know there’s people out there who want to express concern about elder abuse. But maybe they’re afraid that somebody’s going to find out, or their brother or sister will find out. Somebody will find out and tell on them. So when we come back, talk about how, if somebody calls in, can they remain anonymous? Can it go on unreported, or is it just out there for anybody who wants to call in and find out that information? Listeners, we are going to continue our conversation with Eden Ruiz-Lopez after this break. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website at This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after the break.


21:08 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Let’s continue our conversation with Eden Ruiz-Lopez, Assistant Deputy Director for the National Center for Elder Abuse at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Eden, before the break, I was asking you about reporting and remaining anonymous. Can you talk about that?

21:38 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Sure, I’d love to. So, approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60 and over will experience abuse in their lifetime, and it’s likely that there may be multiple forms of abuse occurring. Nearly one in two people with dementia experience some form of abuse by others. And what we have found in our field is that for every one case that’s known to programs and agencies that unfortunately, there are 24 cases that are unknown to authorities. People do express, at times, a desire to remain anonymous, and it does happen quite often on the information and referrals line that we offer through the National Center on Elder Abuse. People will call us anonymously and leave a name, address, and telephone number of the suspected victim of abuse rather frequently. As a professional in the field and in my state of California, I would not be able to remain anonymous. And if I have a case number, I would be someone who APS is permitted to exchange status updates with. And rules will vary from state to state regarding who’s permitted to remain anonymous and those who cannot. Another thing that I’d like to point out is that if a child is suspected of some form of abuse and they report it, that they cannot expect to receive information or status updates on a case.

22:55 Pamela D. Wilson: Earlier in the show, you had painted a picture of different types of elder abuse. Let’s talk about that some more. What are the main types in order of severity? So, somebody who’s going to notice, what would be one of the top things that they would notice?

23:08 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So honestly, the scary thing is that elder abuse can happen to any of us, and it does. It crosses all the demographic and socioeconomic lines that happens to women and to men, and it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter also if you’re living in a city or in the country. Elder abuse is defined as the mistreatment or harming of an older person, and it may be financial exploitation, neglect, psychological or emotional abuse, physical or in a sexual manner. And most oftentimes, impacts people in their later 70s, and two-thirds of the victims are female. So, in terms of what’s the most frequent form of abuse, there are several studies that state financial exploitation is the most common form, and others that state neglect to be. So it really depends on the researchers’ definitions, their study designs, and their study samples. What I’d like everyone to know is that elder abuse is preventable. And what causes abuse, in terms of prominent risk factors, social isolation might be at play. There might be a lack of support and resources like a senior center, social service, agencies, or transportation, or perhaps, there’s an unmet physical need.

24:24 Pamela D. Wilson: So who are the most likely abusers? Is it spouses, children, other people?

24:31 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So, according to research, the people that are most likely to commit abuse have a trusted relationship with an older person and are well-known to them. Whether that means a family member or a caregiver. It’s not really what everyone would like to hear. Furthermore, according to a study in 2015 that was study, excuse me, that was published by Dr. Mark Lachs and Dr. Karl Pillemer, perpetrators are most likely to be adult children or spouses. They’re more likely to be male, and they may have a history of past or current substance abuse, mental or physical health problems. And furthermore, they may have a history of trouble with the police. They may be socially isolated themselves, or unemployed, or have financial problems.

25:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Are there any statistics on who is making these reports? Obviously, the sons or the daughters are not going to self-report.

25:26 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Yes. So unfortunately, our field isn’t as far along as other parallel fields like domestic violence, the child abuse field, animal welfare causes. So, we haven’t yet come to a point where we can uncover an extensive amount of data, but we are working on it. The National Center on Elder Abuse, it’s funder, the administration for Community Living, has funded a project called the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System. And what this project has done is collect data nationwide and streamlined the process so that there is consistent and accurate data. This system collects data annually for all states, and there have been reports that have been submitted and administered from the federal government from 2016, 2017, and 2018. So, in the most recent report, we understood that on a national landscape that 57% of the case referrals originated from professionals, and 11% were actually from relatives, and 5% reported were made by the older person.

26:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s say that there’s a listener who’s hearing you right now, and they’re thinking, “I should make a report, but I’m scared to death of Adult Protective Services.” What would you say to them?

26:44 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So, reporting, although we understand it can be intimidating, it’s easy, and it really is the right thing to do. We have to think to ourself; would any of us want to see our loved ones or our friends in a situation that is threatening that loved one’s life? We all really have a moral obligation to look out for others. To alleviate some of the pressure, I want you all to keep in mind that it’s not up to you to prove that there’s abuse occurring. It’s up to investigatory agencies and authorities to look into any suspicions or allegation. You’ll be asked for standard information during the intake, but most states will not take the report, or excuse me, they will take the report, even if you do not identify yourself. The professionals receiving your report are prohibited from releasing your information as a reporter, and they may not disclose your identity to the alleged abuser or victim. If you’d like more information about local resources in your vicinity , we would recommend that you get in contact with adult protective services and the long-term care ombudsman.

27:58 Pamela D. Wilson: And then the other website that you mentioned that, are there directions on there? So if peoples going to make a call, how do they know by state if they call the police or APS? Is that information on that website, or do they just, is it easier just to call the police?

28:13 Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So, there are guidelines, and you can also turn to, and we have some very convenient and helpful FAQs that will walk you through the process in more detail.

28:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Wonderful. Eden, thank you so much for joining us tonight. This is such important information for our listeners. And per Eden’s recommendation, if you are hearing this and you are noticing elder abuse, pick up the phone. Make a call. You could be saving somebody’s life. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to the Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. All the past radio programs of the Caring Generation are on my website at The podcasts are there, as well as the transcripts. You can listen to them on my website or on any of your favorite sites, which would be Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and iHeartRadio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.


31:26 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to the Caring Generation Radio Program for caregivers, and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation is the place for tips about health, well-being, and caregiving. What to do with siblings who won’t help with elderly parents? Here’s one tip, share the Caring Generation with your family, elderly parents, brothers, sisters, and others on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spreaker. You can download one of these podcast apps to their cellphones and show them how to listen. It’s the perfect way to help begin conversations about caregiving by letting me do the talking for you. When we left off, we were talking about scheduling a meeting or a phone call to talk about caregiving roles and responsibilities.

32:17 Pamela D. Wilson: You let your parents know about your plan to have this conversation. One of your brothers or sisters probably ran to mommy or daddy to complain, and mom or dad told you. What now? Think back to your childhood, and your interactions with your brothers and sisters, there are personality traits associated with the firstborn, the middle children and the youngest, that might be helpful for you to know. If there’s a gap between children of nine or ten years, then that late-born child could be like a firstborn or an only child, or still the baby. So say, talk about these, look at your brothers and sisters and see if there are similarities. According to an article about birth order traits by Jocelyn Voo, “Firstborn children usually receive a lot of attention, because they are the first child. Parents have a lot to do about learning about raising children, and maybe they’re more attentive and rule-oriented. As a result, first-born children, they want to excel at everything.”

33:10 Pamela D. Wilson: They’re generally reliable, conscientious, structured, cautious, controlling, and they are the achievers. They’re usually more educated than their brothers or sisters. My older sister Becky was the firstborn. She fit this profile perfectly. My next sister, Vicki, she was the middle child. Middle children are easier going because they have to fit-in between the oldest and the youngest child. Trying to fit-in can make them rely more on friendships and be less tied to the family than other brothers and sisters. Middle children can also be people pleasers. They can be rebellious, and they can be the peacemaker. My sister Vicki is definitely the peacemaker in our family. Then we have the youngest child, often called the baby. The youngest child can take on very different personality traits. One is enjoying being pampered and avoid taking on any responsibilities. The other is to become a super performer. They’re trying to keep up with everybody else.

34:07 Pamela D. Wilson: Other personality traits of the youngest child, include being fun-loving, outgoing, self-centered, uncomplicated, or manipulative. The neat thing in my opinion about realizing how birth order affects personality is that when siblings get together to care for elderly parents, we need a little bit of all these traits to make it work. In looking at caregiving roles and responsibilities and why siblings won’t help with elderly parents, we will have serious discussions. Caregivers need laughter and playfulness in that mix to balance the work that has to be done. To survive the emotional and physical effects of being a caregiver, it’s important not to take caregiving roles and responsibilities too seriously all of the time. Sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves and the crazy situations that happen, because guaranteed they will.

34:58 Pamela D. Wilson: Now that we have a better idea of the benefits of being different as brothers and sisters. Let’s talk about positively responding to excuses. If we’re honest, we can all make up excuses and reasons why we can’t take on caregiving roles and responsibilities and why we can’t or won’t help elderly parents who needs more work. As the caregiver holding this family meeting focus on the needs of your elderly parents and not the excuses that you will hear for why your siblings won’t help with your parents. Talk about how the responsibilities will continue to grow and the importance of everybody helping out. Prepare for that meeting by typing out a list of all the tasks that you have been doing and share that list before and at the meeting. You can describe the tasks and explain how you’ve been doing them. As you create the list, think of birth order, and who might be best for the tasks on that list. The baby may be the socializer and the brother or sister that keeps the group laughing. That baby might be the perfect fit for the caregiving role and responsibility of providing emotional and social support for elderly parents and for siblings. You’re wondering, what is emotional and social support?

36:12 Pamela D. Wilson: The baby can provide companionship and empathize with the challenges that elderly parents are facing. This sounds like this, “Mom or dad, I get it. Getting older isn’t any fun. Having health issues probably isn’t what you expected, I was the baby, [chuckle] you probably didn’t expect me either, but you know what, it all worked out. As your kids, we will figure out how to take care of you regardless of what it takes.” Having this close relationship with elderly parents can help with troubleshooting problems. Elderly parents may tell the baby about worries and concerns that can be shared with other siblings, while you as the responsible child, and maybe the oldest child has been doing everything. It’s time to assign caregiving role and responsibilities to your other siblings who won’t help with elderly parents.

37:08 Pamela D. Wilson: See who can help with home maintenance, laundry, housekeeping, picking up prescriptions, running errands, transportation, personal care, activities of daily living, medical care, doctor appointments, encouraging proactive health habits like, healthy eating and exercise, managing all the medical equipment, blood pressure machines, blood sugar machines, attending doctor appointments, and responding to emergency medical situations that also fall into this area of caregiving roles and responsibilities. As caregivers, you know that that to-do list is endless. There’s always something to do. We can never have enough brothers and sisters who are willing to help us, which is why we have to have these conversations.

37:53 Pamela D. Wilson: We are getting ready to go on our way out to a break, more on grouping tasks, and how to gain agreement to share tasks with siblings who won’t help with elderly parents is coming up after the break. Remember to visit my website, on there is all kinds of helpful information caregiving videos, my caregiving library, my caregiving blog where I post articles, there are two articles on there this week about the Coronavirus and not panicking about it. The tip is, wash your hands with soap and water. This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to the Caring Generation Live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.


41:00 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. This is The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Let’s continue talking about siblings who won’t help with elderly parents and sharing caregiving roles and responsibilities. Another idea to share with brothers and sisters is related to advocacy and care coordination. You can look at this list as being for a person who likes to manage projects. Which one of your brothers or sisters fits that description? They like to talk to people, learn, and do research. This is one of the list that can be done from anywhere as it relates to communicating in person or on the telephone. In addition to this is a person in the family or a professional who can handle legal decisions related to money and medical care. This is a person that your parents have or will appoint to be the power of attorney.

41:55 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s role-play the meeting. You have talked to your parents about why you’re having this meeting to gain support from your brothers and sisters who won’t help with elderly parents. You agree to update your parents on the outcome of the meeting. One of your brothers and sisters, as we talked about, probably ran to mom or dad to tell on you. The important idea here is to talk to your parents about avoiding gossip or triangulation. The easiest way I can explain this is not talking about somebody who’s not physically present. You and your parents don’t talk about your brothers or sisters without them being there. For example, mom says to you that your sister, Mary, is upset about that meeting that you scheduled. You tell mom to tell Mary to talk to you about being angry. Mary bringing your mom into that mix, only builds bad feelings and emotional upset. Your mom isn’t a dumping ground for Mary’s feelings. Mary should be an adult and talk to you. End of story.

42:50 Pamela D. Wilson: Ending gossip and triangulation is a learned skill. Don’t speak for anyone or about anyone who’s not present unless, of course, you are giving compliments or making positive statements. Although sometimes, even that can backfire if somebody feels you’re comparing them to somebody else. On the subject, I suggest creating ground rules for the family meeting. Ground rules are giving everybody full time to talk based on the agenda and the schedule. No complaining, no comparing your life to the life of a brother or sister, no personal attacks. The meeting is to be productive and focus on sharing caregiving roles and responsibilities. You can also use my 5-5-5 meeting outline to introduce the subject and hear concerns. It goes like this. In the first round, you talk about the subject. Second round, you hear solutions. Last-minute, you agree to caregiving roles and responsibilities.

43:46 Pamela D. Wilson: So prior to that meeting, you send out an agenda with the list of tasks you identified and the goal of the meeting, which is helping elderly parents. At the meeting, you thank everybody for showing up in person or on the phone. You introduce the purpose of the meeting, and you hand out that list. Give everybody five minutes of uninterrupted time to express concerns. Use a timer, and I’m very serious about using a timer. Everybody should have equal time to express their concerns and give reasons why they can or cannot help. That time allows those siblings who won’t help with elderly parents to be heard. Take notes and document the concerns of every person about their feelings of sharing caregiving roles and responsibilities. After that first round, you have the second round of why siblings still won’t help. This round goes like this, “I hear you say you’re busy. Instead of being brothers and sisters who won’t help with elderly parents, we have to find ways to help mom or dad. Let’s make this meeting about the possibilities of helping out, realizing that we all have our personal problems, our personal issues, time commitments, work, children, responsibilities. Please take a look at this list. Let me know what caregiving roles and responsibilities you can commit to taking over or sharing.”

45:15 Pamela D. Wilson: “I’m willing to share the responsibilities, but I can’t do everything by myself.” Give everybody another five minutes. During this time, you may have siblings who are volunteering to take tasks and others who are still digging in their heels, saying, “I can’t help.” Then we have the last five minutes, that is talking about how to schedule and communicate and share tasks between siblings who are willing to participate. During that time, you schedule the next meeting, and you still include those siblings who say they won’t or can’t help. Ask the siblings who say that they won’t or can’t help for ideas. Have them think about how they can help. And this might involve some creative ideas. This could be contributing money to pay for caregivers or any other ideas they have about participating in these caregiving roles and responsibilities. Very, very important, don’t hold any grudges, don’t burn any bridges or say anything that you might regret later with those siblings who won’t help. Your brother or sister, they may eventually come around and help.

46:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Here’s one more ground rule. Siblings who won’t help with elderly parents don’t get to tell you or any of your brothers and sisters how tasks should be done for mom or dad. There are people in our lives who are great at telling us what to do, but then they don’t follow their own advice. Siblings who won’t help with elderly parents, they give up that right to tell everybody else what to do and how to do it. There’s one more excuse that I want to talk about that doesn’t really relate to time, money, work, or health for these siblings who won’t help care for elderly parents. This excuse is emotional. It’s related to, “Ugh, I don’t want to see more dad in that way. I can’t bear it. I can’t take it.” When the focus can be placed back on mom or dad’s need for care or the comfort that they might receive from seeing your brother or sister and their family, we can take away the idea of, “Oh, I don’t want. Oh, I can’t be bear to see that.”

47:27 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregiving roles and responsibilities, they don’t focus on what we want. If they did, we probably wouldn’t accept caregiving roles or responsibilities. Who are we kidding? We are talking about the needs of elderly parents and their practicalities of what siblings who won’t help elderly parents are willing to do and not to do. We are probably out on our way to a break. When we’ll return, we’ll talk about the practicalities of helping elderly parents. Even though we want to help, there are times when we certainly can’t do everything. Next week our subject is living with elderly parents. Ruth Lippin joins us to talk about the differences between anxiety and panic attacks. Do you get panicky just thinking about living with your elderly parents? Either you moving in with them or them moving in with you? It’s going to be a great show. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website at My caregiving a library of articles, videos, my blog, and podcasts from this show. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to the Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.


50:57 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. This is the Caring Generation Radio Program for Caregivers, and Aging Adults live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to make caregiving something we talk about. How many of you work full-time? Are you concerned about your employer finding out that you are caring for elderly parents? Caregiving for elderly parents should receive as much support as maternity and childbirth in the workplace. If you don’t talk to your employers about being a caregiver, they won’t realize the need to offer caregiving support in the workplace. Share my website with the human resource departments at your company. Tell them that caregivers of elderly parents need and want workplace caregiving programs. More information is on my website at

51:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Before the break, we talked about a process for sharing caregiving roles and responsibilities with siblings who won’t help. Let’s talk about bringing information back from these meetings to discuss with elderly parents. There will be times even with the best intentions, that you and those siblings who won’t help may not be able to provide the care for elderly parents that they need. If this is the situation, the conversation becomes about hiring outside help to help elderly parents stay at home. The other option is having elderly parents move to a care community, or move in with you. We’ll be talking about that next week. This conversation may feel very difficult. Just the same as that conversation you had with your brothers and sisters who won’t help. Give yourself a pat on the back. You set up a caregiving conversation with your brothers and sisters. You can do the same with mom or dad. Because if you recall, as a result of that meeting with your brothers and sisters, you agreed to give mom and dad updates. They’re expecting a conversation.

52:55 Pamela D. Wilson: These updates are about how everybody can or can’t contribute to the care of elderly parents. Don’t bash your brothers and sisters who can’t help, don’t go there. The other side of this conversation is the help that you need from your parents. This help could be exercises for them to remain physically able. Help could be taking medications, eating a healthy diet, and being proactive in other areas. Talking to parents about how they can help is essential. Caregiving is that 50-50 proposition. As adult children, we can put in all the effort, but if our elderly parents don’t work toward remaining independent, everybody’s efforts fail. There will also be a point that the health of elderly parents will take more time and more effort. It’s inevitable. Talking to elderly parents and siblings who won’t help care for elderly parents today about a plan for the future.  Absolutely necessary, because as caregiving roles and responsibilities increase, uncomfortable and difficult decisions about money, paying for care, and moving out of the family home become practical considerations.

54:05 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers have their own lives. Time to devote to caregiving roles and responsibilities has time limits. Give a thought to, at what point do we set a timeline to begin looking at other types of care options that include in-home caregivers, moving parents to a community, or living with elderly parents? Having these conversations before the need helps manage feelings of guilt that there may not be a practical solution to provide care. As we go through this experience with elderly parents, we should think about a similar experience for ourselves. We will grow to be the age of our elderly parents. If we have children, we can talk to them about the conversations today that we’re having with our brothers and sisters and elderly parents, so that we’re not in a position five years from now, 20 years from now with our kids having these same issues happen. I thank you so much for being proactive and interested in caregiving, aging, health, and well-being. Do share The Caring Generation with your family, friends, social groups, and workplaces, so that we can make caregiving something we talk about.

55:14 Pamela D. Wilson: Podcasts of The Caring Generation are all on my website at, and on your favorite sites, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spreaker, and others. Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers, and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn radio. I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. Join me on The Caring Generation next Wednesday evening. Invite your friends and family to join us. Check out my website at There’s information on there about the Coronavirus and the worry, start washing your hands. God bless you all, sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow, and a great week until we are together again.


56:02 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host, Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone. Here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

Looking For More Help Managing Care for Yourself or Elderly Parents? You’ll Find What You Are Looking For in The Caring for Aging Parents Blog.


About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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