As noted previously, caring for an elderly family member can be incredibly stressful. Often times family conflict arises as a result of the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual challenges family members face – both individually and collectively. If the conflict gets out of hand an objective third party mediator may be necessary. However, there are steps individuals can take to manage the family conflict before rising to that level of need. Here are a few tips to try to keep in mind as you navigate the process:
1. Listen. Truly, honestly listen. Let family members know you are hearing what they say and are trying to understand their point of view.
2. Respect. Remember that emotions are running high for everyone. Feelings of anger, guilt, hurt, fear, confusion, etc. are likely at the root of what different family members are saying and doing. With this in mind it may be easier to show some restraint and some respect for others which can ultimately help to diffuse the situation.
3. Communicate. Share your feelings openly. Revisit them when necessary. As situations change family members need to come together and communicate new problems or decisions. Break them down piece by piece so that everyone can understand what is at stake. Refer back to tips 1 and 2 when needed.
No matter what stage of caring for an elderly relative a family is currently in it’s important to remember it doesn’t always have to come down to “my way” or “your way.” Sometimes middle ground can be found when actively working towards managing conflict and working together.
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