A guide to family disagreements and decisions about senior care

Posted: 4/30/2020 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Do you remember having disagreements with your siblings over what games to play and other silly things? There always seemed to be one argument or another. That's a normal part of growing up with brothers and sisters. If you have siblings, you know how easy it is to press each others' "buttons" and find fault. Those dynamics can continue, even after we grow up into adults.

When you factor in a stressful situation like the health and care of a loved one, old dynamics can come back with a vengeance. This can make it difficult to see eye to eye and make the best possible decisions. This can be especially true when discussing home health care for your older loved ones.

How to work through disagreements to make important decisions for your senior loved ones

Although every situation is unique, these tips can help you work through disagreements to jointly make important decisions about home care for the health and happiness of your senior loved ones:

Prepare in advance.

Emotions are especially charged when you wait until an accident or other health issue forces you to make a decision. Don't wait until you have to make one. Ideally, you'll have discussions with your senior loved one and your siblings well in advance of any serious issues. When you remove the urgency and stress associated with health emergencies, it can be easier to make emotionally-charged decisions.

Call a family meeting.

To that end, call a family meeting with a specific agenda to ensure everyone's voice is heard and the decision-making process is well organized. It's only natural that some siblings may have more information or insight into your loved one's situation than others. One sibling may be serving as a family caregiver, while others may live out of town. Holding a meeting (before decisions are made -- see below) to discuss the situation and give everyone equal footing to voice their opinions is critical. While an in-person meeting is nice, it isn't necessary. FaceTime, Google Duo or Zoom offer simple ways for everyone to connect. In fact, you can even record meetings with Zoom. This could be especially helpful to ensure you don't forget anything, and to share with your siblings so that everyone can recall the conversation.

Avoid having conversations without your siblings.

Remember, this is an emotionally-charged decision. Resist the urge to make decisions on your own, or without everyone's input. Even small decisions could send ripples into your relationships, making it that much harder to make bigger decisions down the road. You don't want to give the impression that you're making decisions behind anyone's back, or that someone is deliberately being excluded. If it's difficult to get everyone together for regular calls or video chats, consider using a group text thread to share important details and ask questions (this can also be a great way to reinforce and follow up on any conversations you do have in video chat).

Discuss finances first.

Money is one of those topics that immediately tends to get people emotional or defensive. To avoid unnecessary stress or hurt feelings, try to talk about money early on in the decision-making process. Some of your siblings may be in different financial situations, so be sensitive to any financial burdens or added stress the cost of home care may add to your siblings. Putting everyone's mind at ease early on regarding costs and expectations may make it less contentious when it comes to other elements of the discussion. 

Involve your senior loved one whenever possible.

If the loved one in question is healthy and able to actively participate in decisions about home care, it's critical that you involve him or her. As we get older, we may feel like we have less control over certain things. This is especially true with health care. So while you and your siblings will be carrying a great deal of the load when it comes to decision making, it's absolutely critical to involve your loved one whenever possible. Feeling a sense of control and input into important decisions like this one can ease stress and anxiety, and can actually help your loved one be happier and healthier. 

We're honored to provide home care for your senior loved ones. 

Our team is comprised of compassionate, skilled, professional clinicans and caregivers. It is our honor to help keep your loved one safe, happy and healthy. When you're ready to make a decision about home care for your senior loved ones, we invite you to contact your local Interim HealthCare office with any questions, and to learn more about our home care services.