Tuesday Tips for Caregivers: Caregiver Stress and Resolving Conflict

Tuesday Tips for Caregivers: Caregiver Stress and Resolving Conflict

Working as a family caregiver usually requires that you collaborate with a variety of family members, outside people, and professionals. Interacting with this many people to provide your loved one with the best care possible can often result in conflict at some point in time. In this blog, we want to acknowledge various sources of conflict and how you can manage it.

Sources of Conflict

Conflict can occur between family members when people cannot agree on various solutions to problems. Conflict can arise between family members because people are upset at situations or are overly stressed. Unfortunately, sometimes people displace their anger onto others. Other sources of family conflict are rooted in the “legacy of family dynamics.”[1] This means that sometimes it arises because of family histories that are not easy to put aside.

Other sources of tension can arise between family caregivers and professional caregivers they hire, or between the agencies they are working with. Professional caregivers can and do make mistakes, and this causes family members to become angry for justifiable reasons.

Every conflict requires careful communication practices and level-headedness.

How to Handle Conflict

(1) Communication: The most important thing about managing conflict is good communication. This means listening to other people, responding in a level tone, thinking before you speak, and working together with others to find agreeable solutions. If the other party is being unreasonable and does not want to work together to find solutions to a disagreement, then you either have to give the situation time or do what is in the best interest of your loved one. It is not easy to talk through some problems, but communicating effectively is one way to make it easier.

(2) Avoid hypotheticals[2]: Make decisions based off of what you know and what you can feasibly find out. Many times, conflicts arise because people are thinking about “what ifs” and situations that do not currently exist. The best decisions are the ones based on evidence.

(4) Ask for help: Sometimes conflicts can arise because there is too much on everyone’s plate. This is the time when you all should consider asking for help. You may be able to find help freely by asking other family members or friends, or you may have to pull resources and pay for some professional help. Whatever the solution, make sure you get together with family members (if possible) to discuss the ins and outs of finances, logistics, etc.

(5) Address the problem: Many times, conflicts revolve around trivial details. When discussing a problem, address it head on. Always be respectful. It is okay to get upset, as well. But, honesty and directness are the most efficient ways to begin solving a problem.

(6) Realize you can’t force anyone to do anything: Unfortunately, caregiving responsibilities are imbalanced among family members. Some family members take on the responsibilities while others are absent. The best solution to this is to try and explain to absent family members the facts and reality of the situation. Tell them what is at stake[3]. Once they have the information, it is up to them to decide.

[1] Source: https://www.caregiver.org/caregiving-and-sibling-relationships-challenges-and-opportunities
[2] Source: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/handling-family-conflicts-while-caregiving-162008.htm
[3] Source: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-07-2013/family-conflict-and-caregiving-jacobs.html

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