How to Avoid Conflict in Family Caregiving

When an elderly loved one begins needing part- or full-time care, it places a new stress on a family. When multiple family members live in the same vicinity, there is a great advantage of being able to share the responsibilities involved in caring for someone. If the family is willing to share the duty of caring for their loved one, complications may eventually arise as family members conflict over coordinating this care. It is important that a family recognises this hazard from the start, and take preemptive measures to avoid conflict:

  1. Be clear about division of care duties.
    If you are involved in a team at work, you already know the importance of being clear in the expectations of each member. Apply this same approach to your family caregiving. If a calendar or chores list works, do that.
  2. Communicate well, and communicate often.
    Make a habit of communicating as often as possible. Sharing with each other how your time with Mom was today, or what challenges you face in your own home, will help to keep everyone in the loop and understand each other.
  3. Seek outside support.
    As your family goes through this major change, it’s a great idea to bring in a family counsellor for help and direction in this transition. It will be a great aid to have a third party to mediate between family members.
  4. Support each other.
    There will be times when each of you find this change stressful. Be conscious not to criticise or to judge, but to be supportive, and work through this together.
  5. Get help where you can.
    Perhaps you’re not there yet with hiring a caregiver, but there might be small tasks you can begin getting help with. For example, a weekly cleaning service, or grocery delivery will be a big aid and often worth the money spent, once you consider the time you take to do this for your own family, and then your parent as well.
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