Family elder care: identify key points of conflict – and learn how to avoid them

Learn how to avoid conflict when planning family elder care. Photo Credit: Comstock Images,

By Colleen Van Horn, RN, B.S.N., PHN, CCM

Family elder care

can be both a blessing and a challenge. As anyone who has ever cared for an aging loved one knows, there is a great deal of comfort and satisfaction to be had in the experience of providing hands-on care; but at the same time, there are many sources of conflict – between adult parents and children or sibling caretakers, and regarding finances, medical decisions and living arrangements – that can make eldercare stressful and divisive. In order to avoid these issues when planning care for your aging parents, it is helpful to identify any relevant “weak spots” in your own family circumstances. Beyond that, help from a professional geriatric care manager can make it easier to make difficult financial and lifestyle decisions and relieve pressure on seniors and their caretakers alike.

Sources of conflict

As much as we may hope to come together with our loved ones in support of aging parents, there are plenty of factors that can work to drive us apart in the face of caretaking pressure. From miscommunication to old sibling rivalries, resistant parents to unequal division of labor and financial worries, eldercare can cause all manner of familial discord. Take a look at the following issues to see where you and your family might be a risk – and read on for preemptive advice to nip family eldercare arguments in the bud.

  • Communicating with aging parents: As they face the challenges of advanced age, parents may simultaneously rely on and resent their children’s help. Whether determined to maintain independence or simply unwilling to cooperate with lifestyle changes or medications, resistant parents can make proper care difficult. In the face of such resistance, caregivers can ease parental fears by reinforcing the fact that their actions are coming from a place of love and support rather than dismissal. If both parents are under your care, things can be even more challenging: learn strategies for providing balanced care while maintaining your own health and well being by consulting an expert in geriatric care management.
  • Sharing caregiving responsibilities with siblings: While having siblings can be a great advantage when it comes to delegating caregiving tasks, it can also raise power issues, cause adults to revert to old patterns or grudges, and foster resentment if one sibling is doing all the work (or exerting the most control). Active listening and open communication among siblings is key when it comes to establishing a workable relationship for caretaking purposes. By extending understanding and empathy to those with grievances, and also asking for help when it is needed, it is possible to alleviate much of the tension that can arise when siblings work together to care for their parents.
  • Finding financial solutions: Paying for eldercare can be a challenge for any family, especially when eldercare expenses are greater than expected, or incurred without warning. Once again, communication is crucial here: siblings must at once be honest and respectful about how much they can afford, and strive to keep the process of paying eldercare bills as fair as possible. For additional resources, look into government assistance programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Also, take advantage of the mediating affect provided by a neutral third party, be it a financial advisor or geriatric care manager who can offer caregiving strategies within your collective budget.

To learn more about navigating family elder care challenges in San Diego, or to speak with a geriatric care manager about a specific issue, contact us at
Innovative Healthcare Consultants

today. Visit is online, at