When Does a Sibling Often Feel Like An Only Child? Answer: When She (it’s usually a “she”) is the Caregiver for an Aging Parent

Years ago we thought one of our bachelor cousins was the only only child we knew–who had a sister. That was a joke of course. His sister is wonderful but he, with a keen sense of humor, made fun of his self-centered, independent streak and gave himself the title. Those were our younger days. Thoughts of caregiving were far from our minds. In the end his sister was a superb caregiver and possibly considered herself an only child with a sibling (we never discussed it). Fortunately her husband was 100% supportive and involved.

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, the head of services for the elderly at a family counseling agency once told me that the child who would be caregiver for her/his aging parents could be identified early on–“the other children weren’t so involved.” It took me by surprise. Nevertheless, although my husband and I moved far from our families, I always knew I would be there for my parents when the time came.

Does this negate commonly-held beliefs that children take on the caregiver role for other reasons? (this sibling needs a life, guilt,  it’s payback time–realizing what parents did for them, the good feeling that helping others imparts etc. etc.)
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I returned home Sunday to a front door that would not unlock (from outside or inside), the smell of gas due to a pilot light that went out, and a car that wouldn’t start so I was car-less, with a large accumulation of mail. I’m very behind in my life today……So please ponder the question until tomorrow when I’ll apply it to real life as I complete this post.

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