Many things cause family battles: family dynamics, finances, sibling rivalry, and of course, caring for the parents. Amid the drama and emotional conflict, there are actually common reasons why families fight about eldercare. Knowing these reasons can help to avoid some of the battles and make eldercare a more productive undertaking. Here are five of the most common reasons that families fight about eldercare.
1: Siblings can’t come to an agreement.
Some siblings will naturally resist acknowledging that their parents need care. If the discussion concerns moving them into a nursing home, there may be emotional explosions that come from denial or fear. Usually siblings must agree on parental care, unless one child has been named the Health Care Proxy and/or Power of Attorney. The best solution is to find a visiting nurse or other objective expert who can help family members navigate the issues at hand.
2: Parents resist care.
Even when the siblings are in agreement that parents need additional care, plans will fall apart if the parents themselves aren’t in agreement. Parents occasionally resist change and that is normal. Admitting that they need help feels like succumbing to frailty and giving up independence. Engaging parents in the conversations about elder care, and including them in decision making will reduce resistance and help them to feel that they are maintaining some independence.
3: Old roles take over.
When the immediate family comes together to care for mom or dad, they often revert to their roles of the past. This may interrupt productive discussions and prevent beneficial discussions. If one sibling can rise to the occasion and take charge of the conversation, sibling rivalry from the pats can be minimized so that Mom and Dad can become the focus of the conversation.
4: One child does everything
It isn’t unusual that one child ends up taking on the role of organizing care for a parent. This creates exhaustion, stress, and even resentment. When it comes time to make long term elder care decisions, the main caregiver will naturally feel that their opinions should carry the most weight, while other children believe they should have just as much say. It’s best to respect one another and rely on outside caregiving experts to help with the discussions.
5: End-of-life care requires the help of experts.
Emotions are raw, panic is in play, and siblings are grieving at different rates and in different ways. Hospice is an invaluable resource during this time of life. Hospice volunteers are trained to help family members wind their way through the last days of a loved one. It’s not limited to the last week or last days.
Once a physician has given a diagnosis that the patient has entered the last phase of life, even if there are years left to live, hospice can help. Rely on hospice to help with end of life medical care, living arrangements and emotional conversations regarding overall care.