Siblings, Gratitude and Aging Parents

Sibling Rivalry
Whether you've had a lifelong sibling rivalry or been the best of friends, sibling relationships can be very difficult to navigate when caring for an aging parent . I am in contact with many family caregivers, and I often hear about conflict between siblings around caregiving decisions and responsibilities. Some are at such odds that they either don't communicate or have a great deal of trouble doing so. Others say that a simple expression of appreciation would go a long way in easing the sibling tension.

"Some of my preliminary research suggests that gratitude between siblings may be one of the most transformational communication tools in this context," says Lauren Amaro, a doctoral candidate at the Arizona State University Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Amaro's research focuses on the impact that  sibling relationships have on the health of family caregivers.

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"The caregiver's health influences the health of the caregiver's spouse and children, the quality of care for the elder ... and, by extension, the health of the larger community," she says.

If you are a family caregiver who currently helps a parent with social or emotional needs (whether by visiting, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, driving, health care management or financial management) and you have a sibling, perhaps you'd like to participate in Amaro's study. Your parent may have any type of living arrangement, and you do not need to be close to your sibling to complete the survey.

This type of research can be valuable to all of us, as caregivers, because the more we know about the ways that families can better manage caregiving as a team , the easier and less stressful the experience will be.

Siblings who complete the survey will have their names entered together for a random drawing in which each may receive one of 10 $200 cash awards.  Please click here to participate.  

If you have any questions concerning the research study, email Lauren Amaro at

Photo Credit: Bobby Acree sixpackshack 

Amy Goyer is AARP's family, caregiving and multigenerational issues expert. She splits her time between Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, where she is caring for her dad, who lives with her. She is the author of AARP's Juggling Work and Caregiving. Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook.


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