Maintaining open communication between siblings is essential in providing care for a parent with Alzheimer's disease.

As your dad increasingly relies on all of you to provide care and support, the amount of conflict can increase. As the disease journey progresses and each of the siblings participates in his care, sibling rivalries can be rekindled and friction can sometimes tear the family apart.

A big help is organizing a plan of care for your dad.

Meet with your siblings to exchange ideas and share responsibilities and tasks. There should be a lot of frank and open discussions to determine everyone's obligations and roles and what future plans are to be made in the care of your dad. Each sibling, for example, can offer what he or she is able to do in the care of your dad. Some may have special skills or talents in areas of finance, home maintenance, nursing, etc., making those roles more easily doled out.

Oftentimes, if siblings are in disagreement, meetings can be arranged by a social worker, mediator or counselor who will work with the siblings to come up with a mutually agreed upon plan of care. They can find and build a middle ground and build a positive consensus among family members.

Sibling disputes over the care of their parent, or parents, often have undertones related to injustice and inheritance.

A sibling may express a sense of unfairness as he or she shoulders most of the burden for caring for that parent. Sometimes, siblings who live further away are somewhat "off the hook" when it comes to caregiving, and thus the nearest siblings take over those responsibilities. Conflict can arise over the responsibilities and over the kind of care being given. Again, communication plays a key role in helping things run smoothly in your dad's care.

When money is in the mix, conflict typically arises among siblings for power and control. When a sibling or siblings feel overburdened by caregiving, money can compound the conflict. The caregiving siblings may feel they deserve a greater share of an inheritance because they have shared more of the caregiving burden. Or, conflict can arise when one sibling has control over the finances and other siblings feel that too much money is being spent on the care of the parent. Your dad's financial situation should be openly discussed at the family meeting, and you and your siblings can come to an arrangement on spending to achieve your dad's wishes in his plan of care, and also agree to appoint someone to be fiscally responsible.

Your dad's journey with Alzheimer's disease could be long and arduous, and caregiving is stressful on its own without the weight of family conflict and dissension. Ultimately, you and your siblings should realize it is all about your dad and his care and quality of life, so everyone should strive to let go of any anger or long held resentment. Should there be an uncooperative sibling, move on through acceptance and understanding so that your dad receives the utmost in care, and doesn't have to feel he is the source of conflict for his family.


Questions about Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, director of services at Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area at advice@alzbr.org or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.