When an elderly individual can no longer live on their own or begins to need additional support, it can be an overwhelming experience for them and their family members. Each individual involved has their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, needs, and abilities which may not align with one another. This can lead to family conflict. When making decisions around housing and living arrangements, families must balance the needs of the aging person and the ability of the family to provide the care needed.
Frequent Sources of Conflict
- Disagreements about what type of living arrangement is best for the family member
- The involved parties may have differing perspectives about the degree of care the family member requires
- If the aging family member must move into a different home setting, where is the appropriate location that will be suitable
- Financing a new living arrangement and/or support services
- How to address an aging family member resisting supportive care measures or living arrangement changes
Conflict Mitigation Strategies
- Have early discussions with the elderly family member about their wishes. When changes to living arrangements become necessary, it can feel more comfortable for the individual when their wishes have been heard and they have been central to the decision making process.
- Keep lines of communication open
- Be in tune with changing needs and wishes of the elderly family member, and take a proactive approach to resolving concerns
- Discuss roles and responsibilities of family members and other connected individuals
- Take into consideration different viewpoints of the aging individual, their family members and other connected individuals
- Where possible, introduce changes gradually
- Approach conflict situations with empathy and compassion