Thursday, August 23, 2012

SPCAS: A disease eating away at your family?

Some of you  may tune out as I begin this column because you think the subject doesn't touch you.



But, in some fashion or another, you will be affected because you either have a parent or you are one.


The subject is the care of our parents as they enter the twilight years.


My parents passed away a few years ago, but I remember that we kids had to find a routine that was compassionate but also fair for all of us.


While I may not be personally experiencing this problem in my own home, I've  recently run into  many examples of it among friends.


It is an epidemic.


Sibling Parental Care Abandonment Syndrome.


You read that right.


Sibling Parental Care Abandonment Syndrome.


Also known as SPCAS.



SPCAS involves the way one or more brother or sister will  ignore their shared responsibility to care for mom and dad as they age.


The worst form involves a child who is the only one who ever spends any time with mom or dad while the other children live their busy lives, pretending to be oblivious of those that gave them life.


They know the truth.


Milder forms include the situation where mom or dad moves in with one of the children.


The other brothers and sisters come in to help here and  there, but when they get back to their own houses, well, out of sight out of mind.


The child who welcomed the parent into his home is left with the responsibility seven days a week, 24 hours a day.


The home that adopted  dad needs a break.


Here's the point.


Don't turn parental care into a spectator sport.


If you want to be loving, make sure you spend the same amount time with that parent as the one you know is carrying the heaviest load.


Here is the toughest one.


Put yourself second.


Cancel your plans so that you can help.


Yes. Put yourself out by cancelling your plans.


Someone else can't make plans because of the responsibility you won't pick up.


Shame on you if you don't.


So get  off your butt if you're a passive observer of someone else's filial love.


One other thing.


There are two important people  who notice you abstaining from participation.


The first is your parent, who is  actually a little hurt by the fact that you've taken a pass on caring.


He may be old but he's not stupid.


The second person is God, who sees that you ignore the fourth commandment in favor of your I'm-not-tied-down lifestyle.


In conclusion,  get ye to the nursing home every day.


Take time with father or mother every day.


Be a good son or daughter.


Be a good brother or sister.


Be a truly united family that fairly splits the duty that you might be willing to shirk.


Don't wait to be asked.


Nike had it right.


Just do it.



  1. Thank you for your insight into the sometimes hard and emotionally draining job of taking care of our elderly parent or parents.

    Our family is currently in that position at this time. It gets more difficult, when they are struggling with dementia, and other things. You talk about siblings and sharing responsibility, while I agree with you, its not always that easy.Some are still raising minor children,some live too far away to be of much help. I believe that there is one child who becomes the designated caregiver so to speak, because of circumstances beyond control.

    I also have a friend, who is an only child, and that adds another issue obviously.

  2. Thanks for this spot-on article. You nailed my situation as the good daughter who opened her home to Mom. Mom is now 90 but in good health. My sisters both live close by. They will take Mom into their home when I ask. They return her to me within minutes of my return. Sometimes my sisters have to split the week because neither of them can handle 7 days. She has been with me for 17 years. It has driven an ugly wedge between my family, but I am not even sure my sisters know it. It's sad. Please get this issue more visibility.