Tips on How to Handle Family Disputes Over Eldercare

Family disputes over the care of their elderly loved ones can be common and unavoidable. However, honest communication and some healthy boundaries can help mitigate ongoing resentment and build an appropriate support system.

Siblings or adult caregivers can disagree when it comes to how to appropriately care for their elderly loved ones and the following are common challenges you may come across when building a care plan.

Caregiving needs can seem subjective when discussing with many different people. Depending on how much time is spent with the elder, there may be a difference of opinion. The solution to debates surrounding how much care is necessary is to have your loved one’s home life assessed for safety. Your family doctor can recommend a geriatric care manager to do an assessment of your home and determine the amount and type of care needed. Once the care is identified, then the next step is deciding who will provide the care – whether that be the adult family members, a retirement home, or a hired personal care worker.

If one adult is doing the majority of the work, due to geographic advantage or close emotional ties, then it can become overwhelming for them. It takes a village to provide care and if other friends and family do not offer assistance, the primary caregiver can feel isolated and resentful. The primary caregiver needs to communicate their needs and ask for help from their siblings. Siblings can provide financial or emotional help, such as handling the finances or scheduling the appointments.

Without communication, other siblings can also feel excluded from their parents. Those faraway siblings need to be making an effort to stay in contact with their parents and their siblings. By offering help, they are less likely to be shut out of decision-making and more likely to have access to their parents to ensure the best care is provided.

Family is complicated and not all of your siblings may be on good terms with your parents. It is important to try and build relationships within the family, but also respect boundaries if necessary. If your siblings refuse to speak to your parents, then ask them for emotional support on your end and if they will contribute financially to take the burden off you.

Family needs and healthcare can be touchy subjects that can get heated, but it is important to keep lines of communication open and honest and hire a mediator if there is friction between family members. Even if the elderly loved ones are resistant, try and focus on the benefits of in-home care and how it offers more freedom. Communication and compassion are key in these situations, but also be mindful of caregiver burnout and ensure you are keeping reasonable boundaries to ensure you are taking care of yourself as the primary caregiver. Caregiving is a demanding role, but one that offers kindness and love to your elderly loved one.

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