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Family Conflict When Caring For An Ailing Family Member

by Michelle Harper on May 18, 2017

Every family has conflict. However, when dealing with a sick family member, it can become even worse. As a caregiver, you will find yourself in the middle of plenty of family drama. This can make your job even harder, especially if the family tends to get you involved.

There are many reasons for family conflict. Some of them include:

There is some conflict that has been going on for years. Some rivalries go all the way back to childhood. One child may think that their brother or sister was treated much better. Maybe there was a fight in high school that no one was able to get over. Add in the strain of a sick relative and these petty conflicts can become massive!

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Many family members disagree over the care of their relative. Many brothers and sisters will have a different idea about what to actually do with their mother. Some will want to believe that everything is fine and want their mother to live on her own while another one may believe that she should be in a home. Whether he or she should be driving is another common conflict.

If the family has already decided that they need a caregiver, they are starting to work together. However, it may still be a big struggle as they decide whether or not their parent should live on their own or be placed in a home.

Finances are another common conflict. Getting the right care for an ailing family member is never cheap. Unfortunately, the decision may be made on what type of care is affordable. One family member may want to help while another one can’t afford to.

Financial disagreements can be over getting the right care, though just as often, it turns into which family member has handled their money better and is able to help care for their ailing relative.

Another common conflict is usually in the division of the labor. Usually, one person will feel like they are doing all of the work, even if they have help. They might feel like they are the only one who visits on a regular basis. Another may feel like they are always getting calls in the middle of the night and are losing sleep because they are constantly rushing over there. One may be tired of dragging an unwilling parent to the doctor and wants help.

Even with a caregiver, someone still needs to take care of the bills, get the mail, go shopping, clean, cook meals, and much more. This usually does fall on one person more than the other, though you should try to convince everyone to pull their fair share.

Some family members may resent another that doesn’t live close enough to do anything. There is nothing harder than having an ailing family member while you live several states away. However, the remaining family members may feel like that person has it easy. They are not dealing with the every-day work to keep a house running with a sick person in it. They may wish for time away, though they are there every day to support their sick family member.

How to Help?

Always document any issues / incidents in an electronic format that adds date / time stamps automatically.  Discuss any situation with your agency's care coordinator where you feel caught in the middle of family conflict.  Your agency may work direclty with the family to help find a resolutin or sometimes a neutral third-party can calm feuding family members.

Family counselors can help to bridge the differences between family members, assuming they still talk to one another. If things have become really heated, a family mediator specializing in senior care issues may be able to break through the ill will and help build consensus and find middle-ground.

How do you as a caregiver or you as an agency owner recommend dealing with family conflict that is impacting both your client and care delivery services?  


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Topics: senior care tips caregiver tips senior safety