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How to Deal with Familial Conflicts Over Aging Loved Ones

As loved ones start to age and feel the effects of getting older, families may decide to step in and help them with next steps.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to come to a decision regarding your elderly loved one’s next steps. Familial conflicts can occur in many different situations and between several different family members. Familial conflicts may cause a rift in relationships that can be the root of tension and stress among family members. Each conflict will constitute a different response and a different approach towards the situation and an appropriate solution. It is important to read the situation and figure out the most appropriate response based on the immediate needs at the time.

If You Are Having Problems with Your Siblings or Other Family Member

Caregiver Fatigue: When to Ask for HelpDisagreeing with your siblings and family members can cause a contentious and tense environment for everyone. It is common for siblings to argue over the course of action for a parent due to differences in opinions, beliefs and feelings. One of you may firmly believe that a skilled nursing facility is the best course of action for your loved one, whereas another will not budge on bringing in in-home caregivers. During a disagreement, it is important to remember what really matters: the health and happiness of your elderly loved one. You all will need to conclude what is in the best interest of your loved one. But how can you do that?

The first thing that siblings need to do is remove themselves from their loved one to speak freely and honestly. If the elderly individual in questions insists on being present during these conversations, abide by their wishes. However, if they do not want to be a part of the process, removing yourselves completely can negate any stress or anxiety they may feel. During these times of conflict, it is important to have a neutral third-party present during times of conversation. Remember to speak respectfully, clearly and directly. Realizing that you all want to make your aging loved one happy can help come to an agreeable conclusion for all of you.

We recommend taking the time to sit down with your siblings and other family members to discuss the situation from start to finish. During this conversation, take necessary breaks to ease tension and allow everyone to decompress. It is imperative that each person is heard and gets a chance to speak their piece. After you all have talked through your opinions, beliefs and feelings, now a moderator can assist in finding a solution. It is important to note that not everyone will be happy with the solution that you all come up with. However, for the sake of your aging loved one’s happiness and health, it is important to agree to disagree with other members of your family. Reopening old or fragile wounds will only cause more problems for your family.

If You Are Having Problems with Your Aging Loved One

During times of uncertainty and changes, it is human nature to feel anxious, sad, angry and irritated. If your elderly loved ones starts to feel all these things, it may cause you to argue about their next steps. During this time, we encourage you to carve out time where you and your loved one can sit down and have a candid conversation regarding this situation. It is always best to have face to face conversations, but a video chat or phone call will suffice if you are unable to talk in person. During this conversation it is important to remain open, honest, calm and respectful. Giving them the floor to speak to their concerns and being able to address them head on can clear up a lot of confusion between you.

If your loved one is refusing any sort of help or assistance during this time, your conversation priorities will need to shift accordingly. Speaking with your loved one that refuses care can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Although your words and the end goal may be the same as previous conversations, the approach and execution will be different. During this conversation, we encourage you to get to know your loved one’s concerns, fears and reservations and how you can best address them. This will give you the information you need to point them in the right direction during this time of uncertainty and unfamiliarity.

Although it can be hard to come to a conclusion with multiple family members, it is important to remember the reason why you all are gathered to make such an imperative decision. The health and well-being of your loved one must be the sole focus of your family and all your choices must reflect what is best for them. We truly hope that together, as a family, you will be able to find peace and harmony in a chaotic time in your lives.

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