Maintaining Sibling Bonds
The relationships that brothers and sisters share are some of the strongest and longest lasting of any other relationships individuals experience throughout their lives. As a result of shared family history and a number of shared memories, siblings can provide a great amount of support in later life.
Sometimes sibling rivalries that existed in childhood will carry through to later adulthood, but it is important for aging siblings to resolve these issues and keep family communication open.
Communication becomes key as siblings begin to consider caring for their aging parents. Many middle aged siblings need to help one another provide care for aging parents; however, distance can present challenges. Following are a few ways that adult children can help their parents, as well as support their siblings from a distance.
- Keep in touch by phone. This can be an important emotional lifeline for the parents as well as the sibling who provides more direct care. Establish routines for long distance phone calls.
- Exchange phone numbers with the parents’ neighbors. Keeping in contact with these neighbors can serve as reassurance of your parents’ well being.
- Occasionally send letters with brief details to share family members’ experiences. Letters are especially helpful for older people who have experienced some memory loss. They can enjoy re-reading the letters before the next one arrives.
- Record and send cassette tapes back and forth. They are useful for those who have low-vision or memory loss, and they are a fun way to catch up with family members.
Following are just a few university extension sites that provide additional information on this topic:
- “Sibling Relationships in Later Life”
- “Siblings are Forever”
Useful Web Sites Related to Aging
- Grandparenting Today
The web site includes links to newsletters, fact sheets, resources available in Wisconsin, and other useful web sites about grandparenting.
Other sites to explore:
The web site contains a wide variety of information of interest to an aging population. Topics include computers and technology, health and wellness, volunteering, and learning, just to name a few.
- Administration on Aging
- Centers for Disease Control – Aging Activities
Includes a discussion of aging and health trends, longitudinal studies of aging, and statistics, as well as links to other useful web sites.
- National Institute on Aging – Health
The web site includes a number of fact sheets, links to other web sites, as well as an extensive resource directory that lists Federal agencies, centers supported by the Administration on Aging, professional societies, private groups, and volunteer programs. Some of the programs listed are primarily for older people and their families, while others serve professionals who work with older adults, and still others are relevant to all age groups.
- USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University