Common Family Conflicts When Caring for Elderly Loved Ones

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

When a parent is no longer able to take care of him or herself, many times a child steps in to take over. Unfortunately, not every family member sees eye to eye with the person handling the care. This can cause conflict in even the most harmonious families, but it is something that happens quite often. As a leading provider of elder care in Centennial, we’ve seen firsthand how these conflicts escalate and advise families to be mindful of the top sibling conflicts that arise when taking care of aging parents. 

1. Reverting to Old Roles 

In many cases, when siblings work together they find themselves reverting to their old roles in the family. The oldest may be jealous of the youngest or the middle child may feel left out of the entire process, much like you all felt when you were younger. In this case, always try to be the bigger person and accept your siblings for who they are. 

2. Unequal Availability

When it is time to decide who will take care of mom or dad, everyone looks to the sibling who lives a few minutes away, has no children, and works from home because he or she is the most convenient and available person for the job. Unfortunately, one sibling taking on all the responsibility can lead to bitterness because that person is essentially giving up his or her time because others do not see it as being as important as their own. If you are the sibling in this instance, ask for help. Talk to your brothers and sisters about how difficult it is for you to do all of the work and neglect your own life. If you are not the sibling but have a sibling who is caring for your parents, offer to help as much as possible. 

3. Expenses

Money seems to be a major cause of problems in many situations, and that includes senior care. Unless your parents are wealthy or receive enough assistance to cover all costs, you may find that extra funds are needed to pay for expenses like medical care, home care, medications, and even the mortgage and utilities. One sibling may feel as if he or she pays for everything, or all the siblings may assume the sibling who earns the most money should foot the bill. Overcome this issue by meeting with all of your siblings and putting together a fair plan to cover expenses. 

4. Inheritance 

Sadly, when a parent begins aging, some siblings begin to think about what it means for their own futures in a very selfish way. If someone thinks he or she is entitled to a large inheritance, that person may criticize the at-home caregiver for the way he or she allows the parent to spend money or spends the parent’s money on necessities. Again, have a group meeting and come up with a budget. Also, consider talking to your parent about putting together a will if he or she doesn’t already have one. Just be sure not to upset your mom or dad by making them think you or any of their children are focused on financial gain. 

5. Opposing Views

In some cases, two siblings may take a look at the parent’s life and see two different situations. This can lead to conflict over what mom or dad needs. One sibling may become angry if he or she thinks the other is babying the parent or going overboard on trips to the doctor. The best way to handle this situation is to bring in an expert on senior care and let them give you an idea of what your parent really does need. 

6. Decision-Making

Some decisions can wait for a sibling meeting, but some need to be made immediately. In this case, the caregiver will not always have the opportunity to consult with siblings. Either way, decision-making can lead to two different problems. On one hand, a sibling may always feel left out if the caregiver is always making the big decisions. On the other, the caregiver may grow tired of having to make all of the important decisions when other siblings refuse to take a stand. In both situations, communication is key. Let your siblings know how you feel and listen if they tell you they feel left out or if they wish you would give more input.

Being the primary caregiver for an aging parent or relative isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Home Care Assistance offers support for seniors and their families members through hourly and live-in home care, as well as stroke, Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care in Centennial. Learn more about our care services by calling 303.957.3100 and speaking with a dedicated Care Manager today.