Role Reversal: Caregiving for Aging Parents
When an aging parent needs caregiving, the children often need to take responsibility. But what happens when only one of many siblings steps up to the plate?
Aging in America continued...
"There's a greater likelihood today that, as a 55-year-old, you will
have surviving parents, than there was say in the 1920s when both parents
passed away before you reached the age of 50," says Cutler, who is also
dean of the American Institute of Financial Gerontology. "This means that
middle-agers, who are planning for their own older years, also have to think
about their parents."
To complicate matters, one adult child of an aging parent often bears the
responsibility of the parent's care alone. What factors play a part in
determining who takes on the care of Mom or Dad?
"There is a gender bias in terms of who cares for an aging parent,"
says Lisa Hollis-Sawyer, PhD, coordinator of the Gerontology Program at
Northeastern Illinois University. "It's fairly universal that we think of
women as a caregiver, so their role in helping an elderly parent is not
Another factor in determining who will take on the role of caregiver to a
parent is age.
"It's also likely it's going to be the oldest," Cutler tells WebMD.
"While gender does play a big part, now -- with women in the workforce --
it's not necessarily the case anymore, and age and order of birth can come into
But there's more to who is going to care for a parent than gender and age.
Instead, siblings should consider who is the best fit.
It's selective matching, explains Hollis-Sawyer, meaning that personalities,
geography -- simply who lives the closest -- and finances all play a role in
determining who might be able to provide the best care.
Caregiving for an Aging Parent: Taking Charge
If you are nominated -- willingly or not -- to be the caregiver for an aging
parent, dealing with the situation can be a challenge. It can be especially
difficult if your brothers and sisters aren't willing to recognize their
What's the key to enlisting the help of your family to ensure the best care
for your parent? Read on for tips from the experts that will help you wade
through not only the family issues that caring for a parent presents, but the
practical ones as well: