Preserving Family Harmony While Caring for Elders

Do you have suggestions for preventing conflicts and misunderstandings among siblings over the care of their aging parents? I've been hearing horror stories about what can happen when elderly people can no longer care for themselves and need the support of their grown children. My mom and dad are nearing that stage in their lives, and I'd like to do everything I can to preserve family harmony and promote cooperation among my siblings. Any ideas?

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

No matter how you and your siblings and the other family members get along, strive for honest, ongoing communication. If you want high quality care for your aging parents it’s crucial to get the cooperation and support of the entire family. This will call for joint meetings, followed by frequent one-on-one conversations. We suggest you work within the following guidelines:

  1. Plan a family meeting. Use this occasion to evaluate your parents’ situation and air any concerns. You may want to prepare by consulting community professionals first. By all means include your parents in the meeting, and if siblings live far apart, consider investing in speaker-phones, three-way calling or video conference technology so you can all get the chance to share your perspective. Prepare a brief agenda and don’t expect to resolve every problem or disagreement the first time you get together. Trying to tackle too many items at once will cause unnecessary fatigue and irritation.
  2. Invite a third party. At times the situation may call for loving confrontation. This should take place in a safe forum, preferably in the presence of a third party who has no investment in the outcome. For example, your pastor may be willing to sit in quietly as a witness or moderator. In this role he can reinforce honesty and dignity as well as discourage any unhealthy patterns of family dysfunction. Remind each other that you are together to discuss what is best for your mom and dad, not to argue.
  3. Seek solutions. As you begin, you may want to verbalize that feelings of vulnerability or fear are normal with change. Throughout the dialogue, make a sincere attempt to move toward workable arrangements for each family member. Allow siblings to express any frustrations or grievances as long as they relate to the central purpose of the meeting – that is, to discuss your parents’ care.
  4. Show respect. Emphasize the importance of respecting each other’s opinions. No one should be put down for having a different opinion than anyone else. For instance, if a sibling is vocal about wanting mom or dad to receive medical treatment in the hospital rather than hospice care at home, it’s important to talk through the issues, including your parents’ wishes. Try to see things through other people’s eyes even when you can’t count on them to see through your eyes. Speak calmly to prevent the discussion from getting overheated or out of control.
  5. Pray for wisdom. Remember to pray for God’s wisdom and peace to superintend each meeting or discussion. If you are able to pray together, do it often. Prayer unites hearts and minds in a common goal. If this isn’t possible, you can always pray on your own. Look for God’s light in the midst of difficult family dynamics, knowing that the Lord will make a way. Keep a humble, prayerful attitude in every discussion. Remember, your parents’ welfare is at stake.
  6. Follow up. Set a date for follow-up meetings at regular intervals to reassess the results of your discussions. If there is continuing conflict, seek the help of a professionally trained facilitator through the
    National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

If you come up against a wall of resistance from a sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, spouse, or parent who refuses to lend a hand in the care-giving process, do your best to stay calm. Remind your relatives that you are all in this together and that you need their assistance in order to do a good job. If you need further help working through these issues, feel free to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department.


Resources

Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones

Complete Guide to Caring for Aging Loved Ones

The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

Boundaries

Referrals
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Caregiver Action Network

Articles
Conflict Resolution

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.