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Community Ment Health J. 2005 Jun;41(3):327-38.

Future involvement of siblings in the lives of persons with mental illness.

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University of Maryland, Mitchellville, MD 20721, USA.


Siblings are considered logical replacements for aging parental caregivers of persons with severe mental illness. For workshops on future planning conducted with 400 elderly parents, 60 siblings answered a survey regarding their future caregiving expectations, anticipated difficulties, and need for help. Nearly all expected to be involved, but were more likely to provide social and emotional support than the instrumental support offered by their parents. Nearly half indicated that the consumer's hostility and lack of cooperation were major barriers to effective care. It was suggested that siblings need education and help from professionals in assessing behaviors, interacting appropriately, and conferring control of their own lives to their ill relatives. For consumers, social skills and self-esteem training in psychiatric rehabilitation programs should address the area of sibling relationships and reciprocity. Such issues should be dealt with early, rather than later in the course of illness

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