When families are faced with the long-term care arrangements for their aging parents and relatives, feelings of resentment, anger and jealousy that have festered since childhood often create new problems as families learn to cope and prepare for the road ahead. Instead of working together, families can get stuck placing blame.
For the aging parent or relative, they are faced with losing their independence and the reality that they now have to rely on family for more support. However, when negative emotions surface it threatens vital emotional and physical care for the elder loved one. I agree that this transition is often hard on everyone involved but fighting will not solve anything. I know this is easier said than done, but the ultimate goal should be to provide the best quality care for your loved one.
So how do we get past those feelings of resentment, anger and jealousy and move toward a place of unity as we provide long-term care for our loved ones? The key is open communication, and a good strategy to facilitate the exchange of ideas is by having a family meeting. A family meeting will provide a forum where all members can express their feelings and where ideas and strategies of possible care giving options are explored.
However, there are times when this method doesn’t work and the family meeting turns into a screaming match about who has done what over the years or who has not been pulling their weight. It is at this point that the option of having a neutral third-party may be necessary. One such option is Elder Mediation; it provides an opportunity for the elder and all concerned members of the family to participate in creating a thoughtful plan for the future. This is done with the help of a mediator who is trained in issues relating to estates and elder care. The mediator helps facilitate family discussions on matters such as finances and care giving options. The goal is to help those involved come up with a strategy for moving forward that is balanced for everyone involved.
Watch this CBS video “The Caregivers: Sibling Disputes Over Care” or to learn more about eldercare mediation, visit the National Eldercare Mediator Network. Or, you can listen to a past archived program “Who’s In Charge? – Managing Difficult Decisions Around a Parent’s Care.”
Stay tuned for our upcoming April radio series family conflict with our elder loved ones.