How Caring for Aging Parents Can Damage Family Relationships
If you have become a caregiver for your aging parents, this role-reversal may create new challenges for your family. Miscommunication and lack of communication among family members may create resentment that could damage your relationships with your parents, siblings, spouse, or children, but there are things you can do to help preserve these important relationships.
Relationships with Aging Parents
Often, seniors reject the idea of their adult children making decisions for them because they don’t want to lose control over their own lives. It’s important to help your parents maintain their independence as long as possible by doing things such as adding safety features in their home or having a paid caregiver come in to help with household tasks.
According to an article on caring for aging parents, Pamela D. Wilson, Caregiving Expert, Advocate, and Speaker with The Caring Generation, says “In many care situations, adult children become impatient with aging parents who have slowed down. It’s easier and quicker for adult children to take over doing tasks. Taking away tasks that aging parents can still do has the opposite effect of creating more work for the caregiver. Supporting [the] independence of an aging parent is the best course of action in the long run.
When it comes to caring for aging parents, sibling rivalry may reach a whole new level if one sibling is providing more care than other siblings. This may also be the case if aging parents need in-home care but don’t have money to pay for it, leaving their adult children to do so. If certain siblings carry more financial responsibility than others or provide more care, they may feel unappreciated or unequally burdened, which can lead to resentment.
Relationships with Spouses and Children
Spouses and children may resent the caregiver spending so much time caring for their parents instead of being with them. This may cause a strain in marital and parent-child relationships. It’s important to discuss your caregiver role with your spouse or children and continue to communicate with each other if there are problems.
Strategies to Avoid Breakdown of Family Relationships
- Support your parents’ independence as long as possible so they will communicate openly with you about what they need without feeling like you are trying to control them.
- Keep lines of communication open to reduce the opportunity for disagreements. If you have siblings who don’t live nearby, frequent phone calls or video chats may help you update each other or make decisions about your parents’ care.
- Work together to determine family members’ roles in your parents’ care. Keep in mind that some siblings may not be able to do as much as others due to distance or finances.
- Make time for your spouse and children. Don’t let your caregiver role damage your relationships with them. Whether it’s having a regular date night with your spouse or hanging out with your children or grandchildren, make an effort to nurture those relationships.
Caring for your aging parents could damage family relationships if you’re not careful. But if you communicate openly, cooperate with each other, encourage your parents’ independence, and take care of your relationships with your spouse and children, you may navigate through difficult situations with healthy family relationships still intact.
Joseph Jones has been writing senior care and aging-related articles for years. He got his start while writing for a personal blog before he was offered to work at California Mobility in 2018 as the Content Marketing Manager, creating highly informative guides and health awareness articles for aging adults.
He’s currently contributing to a variety of blogs in the senior health industry in hopes to spread information about taking care of seniors and what to expect in the aging process.
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