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Navigating Family Conflicts While Caring for Aging Parents

Providing care for aging parents can be an emotional and challenging experience. When siblings, spouses, or other family members get involved, it can get even more complicated. While having extra support can ease some of your responsibilities, it can also add more stress to the mix as everyone will likely have their own opinions on how to handle the situation.

As conversations escalate over how to best care for your parents, it’s essential to remind yourself that, no matter what, you all have their best interests at heart.

Franklin Park® Senior Living knows that navigating care needs for a parent can be a delicate situation, and disagreements and tensions among siblings or other family members can make it more sensitive. Here are some strategies for navigating family conflicts and deciding what route is best for your parents and your family.

Why Does Tension Among Siblings Rise When Parents Need Care?

When you realize that mom or dad may need additional support and care, it can be an unfamiliar transition for the entire family, and siblings might fall back into old habits of bickering, playing the “oldest sibling card,” etc. These tendencies may not work as adults, though. As your parents age and need more care, “they may not be able to play the parts they did when the family was young, like making the decisions, providing emotional support, or smoothing tensions between family members (Family Caregiver Alliance).”

Caring for an aging parent requires planning, organizing financial matters, and countless other decisions. Without the guidance and support of mom and dad, adult children may feel confused when it comes to navigating care, and all that comes with it. These feelings can lead to conflict and strain among siblings and other family members during the caregiver journey. However, with the right preparation, communication, and strategies, you and your family can navigate the caregiving process with as little conflict as possible.

Call a Family Meeting

Having a family meeting is one of the most effective ways for multiple family members to communicate. Ideally, it would be best if you had this discussion before a parent needs care. Having this conversation proactively can be beneficial as the family has ample time to discuss, research, and make a decision everyone is comfortable with.

When planning your family meeting, make sure that the entire family is present, whether in-person or virtually. The point of this gathering is to outline various care options and define each family member’s specific role and responsibility in this transition. It’s crucial for this meeting to be a safe space where family members can share their feelings openly; you should respect everyone’s opinions even if they differ from your own

Bring in a Third Party

Sometimes, coming to an agreement as a family might seem impossible. In these cases, consider hiring a professional counselor or family therapist who specializes in these situations. They will be able to mediate the conversation and provide a third-party, objective point of view. Some professionals may even equip you and your family with more successful strategies for improving communication and validating different opinions.

Re-Examine Family Roles

When you were younger, each member of your family may have had a certain role or label. Maybe you were known as the responsible, caring one, and your brother was the “troublemaker,” or your sister was always bold and opinionated while you kept your feelings to yourself.

These labels given when you were children can stick through to your adult life and can become especially problematic when discussing care for your aging parents. Even though you’re all adults, you may still feel like the “big sister” who needs to take care of everything, or that you have to keep quiet next to your outspoken sister.

Adult children need to set aside these childhood roles and labels that they may have been given when they were younger and come together to help the family unit.

Put Your Parents’ Needs Before Your Own

When it comes to caring for your aging parents, your siblings might disagree about senior living communities, finances, or delegation of responsibilities. As much as you may clash with your siblings regarding your parents’ care, though, try to remember that you all love your parents equally and share the same goal of maintaining their health and happiness.

When navigating care options for your parents, it’s essential to separate your parents’ needs from your own. Set aside your differences and come together as a cohesive family unit and do what’s best for them. Ultimately, by ensuring that your parents are safe, happy, and properly taken care of, you can ease tension among family members.

Franklin Park® Senior Living understands that navigating care options for aging parents can be a source of stress and family tension. It can be challenging to understand your own feelings at this time, let alone the feelings of your parents, siblings, or other family members. By implementing open and honest communication and putting your parents’ needs before your own, you and your family can reach an agreement that allows your parents to get the best care possible.

Franklin Park® Senior Living has luxury independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities throughout San Antonio, Texas, and the surrounding areas. Our communities are dedicated to providing not only the highest quality of care but also peace of mind for residents and their families. By choosing a Franklin Park® community, you can ensure that your parent(s) will be surrounded by support. For more information on our communities, contact us here!