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Senior Solutions Blog

Uniting the Family

Most people look to their families for support in caring for an elderly relative.  While family members may be a good choice for providing loving assistance, sometimes they bring with them old hurts or unresolved issues that complicate matters. 

To head off controversy as much as possible, it may be best to involve family members early in the caregiving process.  Share your concerns about the elder with them and ask for their suggestions. 

For some families, a family meeting with the elder present makes the most sense.  This offers a non-confrontational way to discuss issues and hear everyone’s viewpoint – most importantly the elder’s.  This can be the elder’s chance to state important preferences and ensure that all members hear his or her wishes first hand. 

For families involved in caregiving, it’s important that there be flexibility and a willingness to compromise – even on the part of the elder.  Maybe Grandma doesn’t want to go to Junior’s home, instead preferring to be cared for by Sis in the familiar surroundings of her own home.  But Sis desperately needs a break, so maybe Grandma gets packed off for a few days. 

If you’re responsible either by choice or by default for orchestrating care by family members, be sure to be specific in your requests.   Ask an out-of-town family member to call Uncle Amos every Tuesday evening.  Ask Cousin Frank who is quick to say he’s “no good around old people” to fix the water heater or sell the unused car.