Navigating Conflict Over an Aging Parent’s Care


When a parent’s health is declining and they need extra help with personal care or daily activities, adult children frequently step in to lend a hand. The eldest daughter or the child who lives closest often becomes the primary caregiver. Such an arrangement can work fairly well if the family elder doesn’t need a lot of care.

While siblings usually all have the parent’s best interests in mind, problems sometimes arise when a senior’s needs increase and loved ones don’t agree on what type of care is required. Each person has their own idea about what is best for the senior. This can lead to disagreements that may become quite contentious.

What can you do to minimize conflict over senior care among your family members?

We have a few tips you might find helpful.

Working Together to Care for a Senior Loved One

1.  Be realistic about your parent’s needs.

Adult children who live far away or those who haven’t been very involved in a parent’s care may be in denial about how much assistance the senior requires. This is especially true if a parent’s health status has been rapidly changing.

These siblings may make statements that are upsetting to the primary caregiver who has been managing things on their own. Statements such as “I would have come home if I had known how bad she really was” can feel like criticism to a weary family caregiver. Be mindful of your language and keep the conversation centered on what a parent needs right now.

2.  Stay focused on your parent’s best interests.

Every person in the family probably has their own idea about what is best for an elder whose health is declining. Problems occur when opinions conflict. Disagreements can prevent you from making decisions that impact a senior’s safety. In extreme cases, family tensions can lead to permanent rifts among family members.

To avoid feuding with relatives, try to be kind and considerate when working together. When you sit down to talk, agree to keep your parent’s needs at the center of each decision. Whenever possible, include the elder in the process. If the senior isn’t able to participate, use any legal documents they previously created, such as a durable power of attorney or advanced directive, to guide your decision-making.

3.  Involve your parent whenever possible.

While you likely won’t want to overwhelm a family elder who isn’t feeling well with a lot of unimportant details, giving them a voice in bigger decisions will allow them to feel in control. This is vital for an older person concerned about losing their independence.

You could work with a Senior Care Advisor to find a few assisted living communities that meet the older adult’s needs and budget. You might make initial visits to each one before narrowing down the choice to a few finalists. Then you could return with your senior loved one, who can make the final decision.

By allowing the family elder to choose for themselves, this approach also aids in preventing conflict among siblings.

Enlist the Support of a Senior Care Advisor

It may also help to seek the support of a Senior Care Advisor. An experienced advisor will understand the variety of care options that are available, as well as how to decide which one is best.

Before you start your search, call 888-514-6461 to talk with a Senior Care Advisor for free!


 Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

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