When Caregiving Creates Tension in the Family: 5 Tips for Indiana Caregivers
August 27, 2015
When aging parents begin to require more help, family tensions often heat up. An adult child who lives close may feel like they are bearing the burden of care while siblings who live further away may be in denial about how much support a parent truly requires.
What can families do to keep caregiver tensions from boiling over?
Here are a few tips to keep family dynamics in check:
- Keep your parent’s best interest as the top priority. Everyone probably has their own idea about what is best for your loved one. In order to work together, however, it is important to be willing to listen and keep an open mind. Old sibling rivalries may make this difficult to do, but your goal should be to think about what is right for your parent.
- Be respectful of the primary caregiver. One sibling usually becomes the primary caregiver. In most cases it is the oldest daughter or the daughter who lives closest to the parent. Siblings who are less involved in care often feel guilty about not pulling their weight. In response, they may become overly critical of the caregiver who is doing the most. Don’t let your family fall in to that trap. Be kind to and respectful of the sibling who is doing their best to take care of your parent.
- Be realistic about your loved one’s needs. Adult children who live further away may not have a realistic idea about how much their parent’s health has deteriorated. They often make statements like “I wish I had known how bad she was.” That can create bad feelings among siblings. Try to keep the conversation focused on how things are today and what needs to be done to help your parent.
- Understand your parent’s wishes. Many families rush to start searching for a senior care solution without ever involving their aging loved one. If they are able to give input, let them. You want to make sure they feel like they are being heard. That will be especially important if the senior care solution requires them to make a major transition in their life.
- Seek unbiased guidance if you need it. If your family is struggling to come to an agreement about what type of care your parent needs or who should provide the care, it may help to get professional guidance. You might want to hire a geriatric care manager or a family mediator to help you assess your loved one’s needs and find a care partner you can trust.
For more helpful caregiver information, please visit our Indiana Caregiver Resource Center. We update it several times each week with the latest research and tools.