As our senior parents age, they may begin to depend on close friends and family members for care and help with basic needs. Often times when this stage of life happens, conflict can arise between family members, especially between siblings. Taking care of an aging parent is often a job for the children, and the conflict that comes from it can be a destructive force if not addressed. If you and your siblings are currently caring for a senior parent, here are some tips for dealing with family conflict that may arise during your time as caregivers.
1. Have a Family Meeting
Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial during this time. Talk to each other about the importance of speaking up. When you or one of your siblings is feeling overwhelmed or under-appreciated, call a family meeting and discuss the issue before it becomes a larger problem. So long as you and your siblings make sure to talk to each other whenever things are getting rocky, you can avoid several disagreements that might otherwise arise. During a family meeting, the discussion should be completely open and honest. Make sure that each sibling knows his or her role and understands what the future plans are.
2. Use a Mediator
Unfortunately, sometimes agreements cannot be reached simply by having a family meeting. In these more disagreeable times, it may be wise to consider having a neutral third party who can enter into the conversation and provide clarity and discussions that benefit both sides. You and your siblings can use an outside friend, a lawyer, or a professional senior living advisor who can work with your family to help everyone keep their focus on what’s important.
3. Work on Your Own Mindset
At the end of the day, the only person you have complete control over is yourself. It’s not always easy doing a big task along with other people who have different opinions than you do. During disagreements, don’t give in on topics that you feel are important to the care of your aging parent, but do not be so stubborn that no one is able to come to an agreement. Pick your battles. Remember that the most important detail in all of this is not being right all the time, or being the best at caregiving, it’s making sure your senior parent has the best care and care options possible.