When you’re the caregiver for an older adult, the last thing you want to do is place undue stress on them. After all, they may be homebound or have physical and cognitive limitations that interfere with everyday life. They may also be coping with numerous health issues. However, when family is involved, stress is often inevitable. So, what do you do when disagreements with relatives place your loved one directly in the line of fire?
Common Problematic Scenarios
When siblings are squabbling
There’s an old saying: “Two people, three opinions.” Everyone in your family may have a different idea about how to care for your loved one. You may want them to remain at the home they’ve known and loved for years, but your brother wants them in an assisted living center. Your sister or cousin thinks it’s time to discuss a nursing home.
However, sometimes the opposite problem occurs, and no one wants to take ownership of the problem. In cases like these, family members may refuse to supply needed funds, hands-on help, or even provide alternative solutions to dilemmas. Every time your loved one gets wind of these disagreements, it can leave them feeling unwanted and unloved.
When scammers are scrambling
Sometimes, it seems that the minute a person attains AARP status, a scammer appears at their door (or mailbox, voicemail, or inbox). Sadly, older adults are at risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. Not even relatives are above reproach. Because of their ability to get close to the victim, those seeking personal gain often have no qualms about cheating family members out of what’s rightfully theirs. Examples of this can include intercepting pension or government checks, secretly removing valuable items from the home, or just constantly asking your loved one for money (which you know they won’t refuse).
Help With Family Problems: Your Rescue Is On the Way!
The above scenarios are not meant to dishearten or discourage you in any way. In fact, there is a variety of methods to help deal with family disagreements. Some you can do yourself and others involve calling in the pros.
Find a legal eagle
Getting legal help may be the way to go, especially when dealing with scammers. Of course, you always want to stop a scam before it starts. But if this isn’t possible, talk to a lawyer about possible redress.
When it comes to deciding what living situation is best for your loved one, consider becoming a guardian or gaining power of attorney if your loved one has trouble making decisions on their own. This may also help address the problem of other family members taking advantage of them.
Stand up to scammers
Often, older adults have a difficult time standing up for themselves or saying “no.” However, if your think your loved one can stand up to scammers (even if they’re family members), encourage them to do so. Tell your loved one that if the person calls, they don’t have to pick up the phone or talk to them. Hiring a home health aide to screen callers and visitors, offer support, and act as a buffer is another possible solution.
Call a care manager
Sometimes, the burden of sorting out family disputes is just too great for one person to bear. In these cases, a geriatric care manager can be very useful. These are individuals with special experience in managing the physical, mental, emotional, and financial issues faced by older adults. Many are licensed nurse managers or social workers who frequently make home visits. They may be able to advise you on the best way to deal with arguing siblings, potential scams, and other things that keep your loved one caught in the middle.
Everyone needs help with family problems
We’d like to close by saying that needing occasional help with family problems is completely normal. In fact, it’s normal even if you need constant help! Everyone has issues associated with aging or taking care of those who are aging. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and certainly no reflection on you. By reaching out when you need support, you’re protecting your loved one – and showing them the true meaning of “family.”
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.