written by Kevin K. Johnson, CSA
For almost 10 years we’ve been working with families to provide eldercare for their loved ones. One of the issues we continue to see is conflict in the very family structure where the senior is in need of assistance. More often than not, these issues are not financial. Instead, they have to do with family ‘case management’. Put another way, what family member is in-charge; who is the ‘general manager’ for the elder loved one? For example, we have seen life-long sibling relationship problems come to the fore when trying to work through critical caregiving issues for a mother or father.
The Alzheimer’s Organization added that “family members may deny what is happening or resent family members who live far away or are not helping enough. There may also be disagreement about financial and care decisions.
To minimize conflicts, we concur with the following comments from Alzheimer’s* organization.
Have a family meeting. Talking about caregiving roles and responsibilities, problems and feelings can help ease tensions. You may want help from a professional counselor or clergy.
Recognize differences. Some family members may be hands-on caregivers, responding immediately to issues and organizing resources. Others may be more comfortable with being told to complete specific tasks.
Share caregiving responsibilities. Make a list of tasks and include how much time, money and effort may be involved to complete them. Divide tasks according to the family member’s preferences and abilities.
Continue to communicate. Periodic family meetings or conference calls keep the family up-to-date and involved. Discuss how things are working, reassess the needs of both the person with Alzheimer’s and the caregiver, and decide if any changes in responsibilities are needed.
* Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org)