Dealing with Family Stress When Caring for an Elderly Parent
It’s a time in life that no one looks forward to, but is often times inevitable: caring for an ill and aging parent. On top of the obvious physical and emotional rollercoaster, many families often disagree on what the best course of care is. Families that have been extremely close for years can all of a sudden end up in shambles, legal battles and more.
For any family going through this now, know that it is possible to get through this peacefully even if it seems that nobody can agree and emotions are running high.
Here are some potential solutions to end family feuding when it comes to caring for an elderly parent.
A parent doesn’t want care
If a parent refuses moving to an assisted living facility or won’t allow an in home healthcare nurse, let them know you are simply presenting options so their quality of life remains stable. Always let them feel in control of these important decisions, and always make it clear you are simply presenting these options because you love and care about them and want the best for them.
One child is more involved than others
Caring for an elderly mother or father is hard work, but can be even more overwhelming when only one child takes an active role in the process. If there are other siblings in the picture, don’t assume they know how you’re feeling or what you need. Let them know you need help. Even if a sibling lives at a distance, there are plenty of ways they can play a role. Perhaps they can visit for a short period of time, assist with finances or help research potential in home caregivers.
The cost of in home care or assisted living is more than many families can afford, and government assistance isn’t always very helpful. Come together in person as a family and have an honest discussion on what each person can contribute. If the numbers still don’t work, figure out what each person can sacrifice to make care more affordable. In the end, a family moderator specializing in these situations may help bring a resolution.
Does mom or dad really need care?
Often times, family members disagree over whether or not a parent needs care, and if so, what kind of care is needed. Seek the objective opinion of a family physician or other qualified healthcare professional.
End of life care and wills
While one family member might want hospice assistance, another might want to bring a terminally ill parent into their home and care for them. This is why everyone should have a living will that spells these things out clearly so there is no confusion and disagreements when the parents might not be able to answer for themselves. It’s also important that a will be drafted so after the person’s death, it is very clear who inherits what.
Caregiver burn can be a major contributing factor in adult children disagreeing with the path of care for their parents. The added stress can exacerbate feelings and emotions. Caregiver burn is a real phenomenon and is accompanied by a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones. It is critical caregiving children get the support and help they need to weather the storm.
Talking with one voice
Working through disagreements is important so the family can talk with their loved one with one supportive voice. It can be extremely hard to have “the talk” with parents even when the family is united. Dealing with all the issues listed above before you talk with a loved one will have a direct bearing on the results you are trying to achieve.
Remembering that the goal is to keep your loved one safe, secure and independent at home, which is why you are working together as a family. More importantly, whether you understand it or not, your parents are now looking to you to help make their golden years the best they can be.