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Handling Family Conflicts When Caring For Aging Loved Ones

by Amy, November 13, 2014

caring for aging

At Care Indeed, our Palo Alto home caregivers understand that in many situations, when the time comes that an elderly parent or relative needs a little help, it can cause turbulence between family members. Nearly every family faces conflict at some point when it comes to caring for an aging parent. For instance, one sibling may feel he/she is doing all of the work. On the flip side of the coin, other siblings often feel that one sibling has taken control much to their dislike. Family members may disagree on what type of care an elderly person needs.

Disagreements between family members often occur due to:

How capable an elder is and his/her health. Family members often have very different opinions when it comes to how good/bad a loved one's health is, and how capable the elder is when it comes to driving, bathing, cooking, or taking care of household tasks.

Childhood rivalries often rear their ugly heads at the worst possible time. In almost every family where there are two, three, or more siblings, one may seem to have been more favored as a child by the other siblings. Jealousies and rivalries you thought were long ago buried in the sandbox may come to the forefront again when it comes to being in your parent's home and making decisions about an elderly loved one's care.

Financial/practical issues cause discord. With many families, it is the financial issues that cause the most conflict. It's difficult to determine whether an elderly person can afford an in-home caregiver, someone to take care of the house, or even whether a parent should continue living in his/her home, or move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Financial matters can break families apart; these conflicts may be fueled by perceived unfairness in how the family estate will be distributed, and more.

Resentment due to unequal distribution of care. Burden of care is the biggest reason for conflict among family members. One sibling may live close to an aging parent, and therefore assume his/her care. In some cases, one adult child may have more free time and fewer responsibilities than the other siblings. Still, even those who choose to take on most of the burden of care eventually become resentful. It can also work the other way around, when siblings feel that one sibling is taking over all control of caring for a parent.

While these issues can tear families apart, it is these situations that can also bring families closer together. Work on dividing the labor in a way that is fair to all involved, hold frequent family meetings where information is shared and decisions are made as a group, and above all, keep the lines of communication open. Talking about any problems or issues will help prevent resentment. Know that above all else, you are a family and although you may have very different opinions, communication and working together is key.

At Care Indeed, we provide families with a wide array of services designed to make caring for aging loved ones easier. Those who live in the San Francisco area can rely on us for live-in care, respite care, senior care, hourly or overnight care, hospital sitting, and more.