Navigating Conflict Over Parent’s Care

Asian family with adult children and senior parents relaxing on a sofa at home togetherWatching your parent’s health decline is difficult enough, but when conflict occurs over how to provide care for your Mom or Dad, it can become extremely stressful.

To help you and your family put aside differences, and focus on what’s best for your parents, the Senior Care Specialists at Eddy Senior Living share tips for preventing conflict, identify common causes of disagreements, and offer insights into conflict resolution.

How to Prevent Conflict Over Senior Care

Ideally, you want to stop conflict before it starts. The best way to achieve that is to have family discussions about senior care before the need arises. When parents are clear about what they want, it’s easier for siblings to work together to help them achieve their goals.

Hold a meeting with all family members present – even if that means using video chat – so everyone can get on the same page. Ask your parents what they want for their later years, as well as how they want their adult children involved, and what resources they have for senior care. Getting everyone together, sharing and listening, will help greatly with future decision-making.

How to Resolve Conflict Over Senior Care

Of course, conflicts over care can still occur. Whether it’s a resistant parent or disagreeing siblings, here are some expert tips to help you and your family navigate conflict and find a solution.

Caregiver is Feeling Overburdened

One of the most common causes of family conflict is when there is an uneven distribution of caregiving responsibilities. This could be because one sibling lives closer, has more perceived time, or simply because they have always been labeled “the responsible one”. This imbalance can lead to frustration, resentment, and even hinder the caregiver’s ability to provide quality care.

To get family members more involved in caregiving, consider each sibling’s strengths, and suggest dividing up responsibilities accordingly. While those who live closest may continue to provide caregiving, others may be able to handle finances and medical bills, or provide legal support and financial assistance. Rather than using guilt, explain how each sibling is uniquely qualified to use their strengths to help with the task.

Of course, if caregiving continues to be too much for the family to handle, it may be time to consider respite care or a long-term solution, such as assisted living.

Aging Parent is Resisting Care

In some case, parents may be in denial about their limitations, and refuse to acknowledge that they need assistance. They may continue to assert their independence, despite the risk of injury or worsening health, causing tension with their adult children who know they need extra support.

When this happens, it’s important to listen to your parents and validate their feelings. Rather than hosting an intervention, or coldly rationalizing why your parent needs better care, have an open and honest discussion with all family members present. Find common ground by identifying points you can agree on – for example, maybe the property is too much for your parents to maintain, or driving isn’t safe anymore. Focus on the benefits, and what they’ll gain by accepting care, instead of what they lose.

Come prepared with a list of assisted living communities you and your parent can tour together, so they can see for themselves that it’s not a nursing home, or suggest a “trial run” through a respite care program.

Difference of Opinion

Sometimes it’s not the parent, but another family member who is in denial about a parent’s decline. Family members don’t always see eye-to-eye on how much care, or what type of care, a parent needs. They may not want to believe that their parent or spouse needs additional support, and will disagree with any plan provided.

These conflicts are particularly common when an adult child lives farther away and isn’t fully aware of what is going on. In this case, simply bringing them up-to-speed on your parent’s health, and citing specific examples, may help get everyone on the same page. For those who are aware, but still in denial, sometimes bringing in a third-party, such as your parent’s doctor, can offer additional support.

If you’re unable to work it out as a family, you may need to seek professional guidance. To reduce speculation and disagreement about what a parent truly needs, you can hire a Geriatric Care Manager to assess your parent’s needs, and coordinate care and resources. Elder Care Mediators are also helpful in resolving conflict and facilitating negotiations.

Senior Living Can Help Alleviate Conflict

While you and your family members might disagree, it’s important to remember that you all share the same goal: ensuring that your parent is happy and healthy. At Eddy Senior Living, we are committed to doing just that. By taking on the responsibility of caregiving, we can help alleviate the possibility of disagreements between siblings and parents, and allow you to focus on your relationships.

To learn more, schedule a tour or call (518) 280-8385.