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Helping family members work out conlfict when caring for aging parents

Kurt Kazanowski Hospice, home care and health system expert with more than 30 years of experience Homewatch Caregivers

Our parents took care of us when we were younger, but now unfortunately our parents may need us to take care of them in their golden years. Though the entire family wants what is best for mom or dad, there may be disagreements when it comes to helping with day-to-day activities and if your aging parents become ill. While there are many obstacles facing families in this situation, there are also many options to make the process easier and keep things peaceful.


Do get several opinions

Family members that disagree over whether or not a parent needs care, and if so, what type of medical care is the best course of action, need to exercise their options. An objective opinion from a family primary care physician or healthcare professional can help the family come to an agreement for what is best for their parent.

Do have a living will

Everyone, especially elderly parents, should have a living will that clearly spells out each of the things that matter to them if they happen to get sick or need outside assistance. This will help to eliminate confusion and disagreements when parents might not be able to answer for themselves. For example, one family member might want to get hospice assistance, while another might want to bring their terminally ill parent home and care for them themselves. A drafted will also helps after the parent passes away, so it is very clear as to who inherits what.

Do find balance

Whether you are personally caring for an elderly loved one, or they are in an assisted living facility or hospice, understand the stress this will bring you. On top of your job and your own family, you will have to make decisions, make regular visits and deal with the emotional toll of everything going on. Try and find balance in everything you are dealing with.

Do hire a professional mediator if you can’t work things out

Just like legal cases often go through a mediation before heading to court, there are family mediators who can bring a fair resolution in situations like this. Don’t be ashamed to seek the help of a professional mediator. He or she will work with everyone and try to reach a satisfactory resolutions for all involved.

Do understand that hospice is more than just pain management

Most people believe that hospice is simply about pain management. And while that is indeed very true, there’s more to it than that. Hospice offers emotional support and grief counselling for up to 13 months following a loved one’s death. Hospice also provides spiritual counseling to meet the needs of the patient and family.


Do not force an elderly parent into an assisted living facility

Parents who refuse moving to an assisted living facility or don’t want an in-home healthcare nurse have a reason to do so. But it is still good to let them know that you are simply presenting options so that their quality of life remains stable. It is good to always let your elderly parent know and feel that they are in control of these important decisions about their own health. Let them know that you just want what is best for them and care about them.

Do not be afraid to ask for help

It can be extremely overwhelming taking care of an aging parent by yourself, even if the other family members are taking an active role. Though siblings may want to be involved, they might live too far away, for example, and aren’t able to be as active as they like. To be the best caregiver possible, you will need to take a break from time to time and that starts with asking for help.

Do not question the cost of care

The cost of in-home care assistance and assisted living facilities is often more than many families can afford. Government assistance isn’t always helpful either. However, if you come together as a family and decide what each person can contribute, it might work out. If the numbers still don’t add up to enough, then you can figure out as a family what each person needs to sacrifice in order to make the care more affordable. Quality assistance isn’t something you want to skip out on. A family moderator specializing in situations like these may help your family come to a compromisable resolution.

Do not fight after your loved one passes

All too often, what follows a period of mourning, is feuding between siblings and other family members. After all, there’s a lot to be decided. What happens to your mom or dad’s possessions? Who will put their house up for sale? What about their furniture? Who inherits what? The importance of a will can’t be stressed enough. The last thing your parents would want is fighting among their children. Do everything possible to keep things peaceful.

Do not fight in front of your elderly parents

When it comes to the final days, most parents want to enjoy the time they have left with their children and family. Always keep things upbeat, happy and peaceful in front of your mother or father. The last thing they need or want at this point is to see their children fighting.

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Remember, no family wants to find themselves in this unfortunate situation. But sadly, it is a reality that most people will have to face at one time or another. As tough as it may be, remember you’re not in this alone and it’s always best when families can stick together, workout their differences and remain a solid, stable support unit for each other.

More expert advice about Caring for Aging Parents

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Kurt Kazanowski Hospice, home care and health system expert with more than 30 years of experience

Kurt Kazanowski is a Consultant, Speaker, Author and Coach for Hospice and Home Care Organizations. He is a native of Detroit Michigan and has over three decades of experience in the field of Health Care. He received his Bachelors Degree from Me...

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