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Tough Talks: Caring for Loved Ones With Other Family Members


Dedicating your time to caring for an older loved one often means that other relationships may have to take a back seat. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can only spread yourself so thin. This might result in additional stress, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings.

The secret to overcoming this problem when caring for older loved ones with other family members is communication. It means having conversations that could be uncomfortable but that allow the opportunity to air grievances, share feelings, and ultimately reinforce the love you have for each other.

How to Start Uncomfortable Conversations

You may feel like you need to create a formal setting for these tough conversations, but that’s not always the case. It may be a short talk over lunch or a casual conversation during a road trip. It should not, however, be an instant reaction to a stress-inducing incident. Attempt to talk about a problem before the stress has an opportunity to build up to an explosive level (or when you’ve had the chance to calm down).

Consider this example of a potentially difficult conversation. Your teenager is feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed having friends over because of the dementia-related behaviors of your elderly parent. Start with this brief assessment to find the answers for yourself as well as your daughter:

  • What goals do we want to accomplish from this conversation?
  • What are each of us thinking and feeling?
  • What would we like each other to know?
  • What do we need from one another?
  • What do we have to give and receive?

Make sure to consider how the older adult in the equation feels as well. In particular, prior to the cognitive decline, figure out what your parent would want for you and your daughter.

With this framework in mind, allow yourself to be honest, authentic, and vulnerable. Listen to each other’s perspective respectfully, offer empathy and understanding, and collaborate to come up with a viable solution.

Is It Better to Leave Some Concerns Unsaid?

When caring for older loved ones with other family members, it’s natural to try to avoid troubling the waters by starting a tough conversation. And certainly, situations may arise that are best resolved through another means, such as by talking with a professional therapist to unravel your thoughts and feelings before approaching someone else with them. As a general rule of thumb, however, nothing beats open, honest communication to allow you and people you care about to better understand one another.

Let a Superior Senior Home Care caregiver help you carve out time for the conversations you need to have with other family members by providing experienced, professional in-home care for the older adult you love. Contact us online or at 805-737-4357 for more information on our home care in Lompoc, Santa Maria, Nipomo, and the surrounding areas.

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