Caring for an aging loved one can prove to offer many challenges, especially when siblings and other family members don’t see eye to eye. But when everyone can put aside their differences and work together, it allows seniors and their families to overcome obstacles and avoid the arguing and strife. In this month’s blog, let’s take a minute to look at some the obstacles families may face as senior parents become incapable of living without day-to-day assistance, as well as the solution for each to achieve family harmony.
1. The Needs Are Viewed Differently
In most cases, it is extremely common for the parent-child-sibling relationship to differ when it comes to perceived needs and assistance. The senior parent or sibling may likely say they are well, either from denial or fear of moving into an assisted living arrangement, but in reality they are needing of daily care and are thus refusing to accept outside help. For instance, do they require extra help getting around the house as their mobility is declining? Or is the onset of memory related disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer's, beginning to affect their daily activities? It is natural for the senior to perceive they are fine and to become defensive when confronted with a different appraisal of the situation.
Possible Solution: When families disagree about how much care an aging parent needs, if the senior parent needs care at all, the conflict can often be addressed by consulting expert guidance and receiving a professional recommendation. Arrange a visit, either at home or in office, to speak with the senior’s primary physician. The advice from a healthcare professional can help to definitively identify the needs and suggest an appropriate care plan for your senior loved ones. Doing so may eliminate the conflict that prevents necessary care actions. Talking with a Regency community consultant may alleviate some misconceptions that might cause aging parents to dread the inevitable.
2. Parents Resist Senior Care
It’s normal for seniors to feel apprehensive about transitioning into assisted living. This sensitive topic can easily cause anxiety and hurt feelings, if not expressed properly. Often, a lack of effective communication results in talking down to one another instead of listening one another.
Possible Solution: When approaching the conversation of assisted living with parents or loved ones, be concise, clear, and to the point. Let them know that you’re not trying to hurt their feelings in any way or “get rid” of them. Do your very best to express your concerns so they know that you are coming from a place of love. Also, do your best to listen to their concerns. It’s critical to provide and educate your aging parent about the many options. Today’s assisted living communities have all the comforts of home and so much more! In attempting to convince even the most incorrigible parent to consider the idea of senior care, remember to never hide any information from them. Chances are they will find out and feel that the move is a forced migration. Be open, upfront about the process of finding senior care options, and include them in every step, if possible. Lastly, take things slow if your situation gives you this luxury. Chances are a decision regarding future care plans will likely not happen overnight. Senior care specialist Debra Feldman recommends having patience and understanding in situations where resolution takes time to come to an agreement. Arranging to stay overnight in an Assisted Living community can help the senior grow more comfortable with the idea.
3. Primary Control in Decision Making
A scenario similar to the first example, occurs when one member of the family takes the responsibility as primary caregiver, leaving everyone else without say, sometimes, even the senior. This can result in one sibling’s full control of deciding how the parent is cared for, along with their estate and inheritances.
Possible Solution: Broaching the topic of assisted living and estate planning is never easy, especially if the conversation does not happen until after one member of the family has assumed full control. And while avoiding the topic may seem easier to keep the peace, family members should always approach concerns regarding the well-being of an aging parent, even though it hurts to not feel included. If a dispute arises regarding estates and inheritances, consider contacting a family mediator. They will analyze each situation fairly and objectively. While compromise may not be found through a mediator, if a will has been written, legally there is no reason for concern. At the end of the day, the focus should be that the care needs of your loved ones are being fulfilled.
Written by: Katie Hanley