Family Conflicts Over Caregiving

Posted on

Apr 12, 2024


Pennsylvania - South Central PA

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As our parents age, the primary questions adult children face are (1) who is going to provide needed care, and (2) in what setting will mom or dad receive the needed care. Coming to such decisions does not always mean smooth sailing moving forward. Family members often view care issues very differently and conflicts can be further complicated when one of the siblings is the primary caregiver. Our team members find such conflicts to be quite common in their work with our clients and families. The situations are stressful and charged with emotion, worry, and exhaustion—the perfect storm for conflict and family duress.

As I reflect on the meetings and consultations I have had with some of these families recently, I suspect that part of the problem is the fact that the aging parents failed to verbalize—early and often—their wishes and desires related to the “what if” scenarios. Because their folks did not talk openly about their wishes and expectations, the adult children are often forced to guess what Mom and Dad would have wanted—another perfect storm for differences of opinion and sibling conflicts.

If you have not already done so, commit to conversing with your adult children about the “what ifs”. Let them know your wishes and preferences. Consider the effort to be your conflict prevention plan, so that down the road, you and yours won’t have to engage in conflict resolution. And be sure to have a formal caregiver agreement drafted if a family member becomes the paid caregiver. It is an important tool for many reasons, including clarifying the financial parameters of the care being provided. Doing so will prevent misunderstandings between those you love most. Open, honest communication is always the key, and we recommend it early and often in these situations.

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