Family squabbles are practically tradition, but when a parent or other loved one needs additional care, the stress can put further strain on family dynamics. When Sunday dinners threaten to turn into screaming matches and insult fests, it's time to find new ways to communicate and find resolutions.
Pick Your Battles
Does it really matter if Dad has a first- or second-floor room as long as it's in a nice community and near the elevator? If Mom is more comfortable wearing her house dress all day than putting on slacks and a blouse, is that an argument really worth pursuing? Some issues are bigger than others. While your preferences may feel important in the moment, taking a step back to see the big picture could save you a lot of grief in the long run. Pick your battles wisely; if you're waging war over something that won't have a significant impact on finances, health or safety, it may be time to let it go.
Listen at Least as Much as You Talk
Only 10% of people are listening effectively. The rest of us are distracted by our smartphones, focused on other things or waiting for our turn to talk. As a result, it's easy to miss someone else's point, and that's when minor miscommunications turn into major issues.
Practice active listening by:
- Putting other tasks aside and practicing solely on listening
- Making it your goal to learn something new from each conversation
- Using positive feedback to engage with and encourage the speaker
- Prompting further dialogue using open-ended questions
- Summarizing what you heard to verify you've grasped the intended meaning
Find Time for Self-Care
You can't pour from an empty cup. Being a caregiver is tiring work. No matter how much you adore your aging loved one, you can't be there for them if you're constantly sacrificing your own emotional and mental well-being. Find ways to replenish your reserves. That may mean scheduling regular yoga classes, getting a biweekly massage or just carving out 30 minutes every day to play a game on your phone or read a chapter of a current bestseller. Small things like getting your nails done or putting music on while you do laundry can help too.
Remember the "We" Aspect, Not Just the "You"
You care about your loved one so much it sometimes hurts. Guess what? You're not alone. Your other family members are likely just as dedicated. They hurt like you hurt, worry like you worry and are every bit as eager to find a mutually satisfactory solution as you are. While doing the lion's share of the organizational work or research may make you feel like your opinion is the only one that matters, that point of view practically begs for conflict.
Try to disassociate your emotions and aim for what's best for your parent, even if it's not necessarily what you want or need. It's integral to find common ground with your siblings, and that may mean swallowing some unpleasant truths or letting old hurts slide.
Try to Concentrate on the Present
You have enough on your plate without dwelling on what you think should happen or what might occur in the future. Borrowing trouble, so to speak, is a recipe for stress, and you're expending much-needed energy on scenarios that are completely unrealistic or may otherwise never actually come to fruition.
Take stock of the situation as it currently stands and address problems with that snapshot in mind. Yes, circumstances may change, but you can't account for the dozens or even hundreds of paths life may take, so it's best to focus on the here and now. Doing so will make it much easier for your family to come to a consensus.
Ask for Outside Help
When you just can't get on the same page — or if you truly feel like your family members don't have your parent's best interests at heart — it's time to call on a professional. You may want to consult a medical professional to gain a better understanding of your parent's physical limitations or talk with a lawyer or financial advisor to grasp potential legal or monetary issues. Family counseling is a possibility as well.
Transitioning your parents to an assisted living community or other style of senior living can be a tumultuous time. To ease the way, choose a community with support and resources on hand so you can get expert, comprehensive answers to your most important questions. For information on Brightview Senior Living, reach out to a community near you or your family today.