3 Tips for Caregiver Siblings of Adults with Special Needs

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Are you the primary caregiver of an adult sibling with a developmental disability? Or do you expect to assume that role sometime in the future?

Then you are in good company. A recent national poll indicates that 23% of adult siblings of those with a disability are serving as primary caregivers while 1 in 3 expect to take on that role in the future. Three-quarters said the role is a full-time job and 30 % said they don’t get emotional, physical or financial help from others. In addition, about 1 in 5 siblings said that dealing with a brother or sister with a disability has negatively impacted their relationships with other family members or their quality of life.

A serious challenge many of these caregivers face is social isolation. I experienced this growing up with an brother with special needs and have since met other caregivers sharing similar experiences. If you are caring for a family member with a disability, I have 3 suggestions geared toward helping you in this role:

·Develop a support network of folks who can share the logistics and peer groups who can provide you with advice and emotional support

·Plan early for future care-giving plans, including special needs trusts, medication schedules, and guardianship decisions.

·Communicate with parents and other caregivers often and early, gathering details about care plans, logistics, helpers, and medical histories, so future care transitions don’t happen in “crisis mode.”

Despite the hurdles, many adult siblings report that their relationship with their brother or sister with a special need is strong and rewarding. More than half said that having a sibling with a disability had a positive impact on their quality of life. Proper planning can help ensure that this is so for you.

Originally published on July 15, 2018 by Cheryl Albright on Soul To Soul Yoga website.

For more information or to have Cheryl come speak to your organization, please email

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