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Caring for Elderly Parents? 4 Conflicts When Making a Care Decision

Caring for elderly parents brings its own set of unique challenges.

Suddenly, you’re faced with making a care decision…and unexpected conflicts with siblings arise or old tensions begin to surface.

While some amount of disagreement with family members is inevitable, that doesn’t mean you have to let disagreements spiral into a full-blown war.

In this post, we’re covering situations that provide the tinder for blazing family feuds. Most importantly, we’re sharing tips for each situation—helpful pointers to navigate these conflicts and foster resolution.

Let’s dive in…

1. Family Members Are Excluded from Caring for Elderly Parents or Making Decisions

When it comes to caring for elderly parents or deciding what care options are best, equality is rare…and a bit impractical.

Maybe your brother never seemed to care about Dad…until you started researching assisted living communities.

It’s understandable.

Including your brother in the decision is difficult when he’s been absent for so long. But the reality is, excluding your sibling from caring for your elderly parent might only widen the divide.

For situations like these, here’s an important pointer.

Except in extreme cases, don’t take an all-or-nothing approach.

Don’t exclude family members as punishment for past lack of involvement.

Brainstorm how to involve your family members, even if they aren’t qualified as caretakers…

  • Don’t get into a fight over home health vs. assisted living with your sibling. Instead, have your sister draw up a list of assisted living communities in your local area.
  • Take your aunt (who’s against Mom making a move) on tours to local communities. Ask her which community she thinks is best.
  • Share less important caregiving tasks with family members. Your sibling may not take Dad to a critical doctor visit, but he or she can take Dad to that physical therapy appointment.

2. The Distribution of Responsibilities and Decision-Making Is Unequal

But sometimes, family conflict doesn’t ensue because certain family members aren’t involved.

Sometimes, they’re simply not involved enough.

It’s not uncommon for some siblings to carry a heavy caregiving load…while others rarely pitch in to help—leading to major conflict.

Here are a few tips for getting absent family members involved in caring for elderly parents…

  • Analyze each family member’s strengths. Consider what your family members are good at. If your brother is an expert researcher…ask him to investigate the financial options Mom has for senior care.
  • Make an appeal. Don’t use guilt to manipulate family members into helping. Instead, ask your siblings to use their gifts to help. Explain how each one is the most qualified for the task.
  • Communicate honestly, but kindly. If your siblings aren’t responding as you’d like, explain what Mom or Dad is experiencing. Be honest, but place the focus on helping your family members strengthen their relationships with your parent…not on what you’re experiencing.

3. Families Have Difficulty Navigating How to Pay for Senior Care


Caring for elderly parents comes with a price tag…and money matters can easily spark family conflicts.

If financial discussions begin to create tension, don’t add fuel to the fire by recalling past grievances.

Redirect communication toward finding a solution for Mom or Dad, and resist the temptation to gossip or leverage passive-aggressive references. Instead…

  • Look into your parent’s financial options. For all you know, your parent may have access to veterans benefits or another form of financial aid.
  • Research affordable senior care. If you’re not familiar with affordable assisted living, it’s time to discover what this option is and how it can benefit your loved one.
  • Consider downsizing. According to HousingWire many areas are seeing robust growth as recently “64% of markets reached a new all-time high in home prices.” All that to say…consider encouraging your parent to sell his or her home and downsize…freeing up cash.
  • Research other options. At The Ashford, we offer affordable assisted living…but that doesn’t mean assisted living is for everyone. A multigenerational housing arrangement—such as converting your basement into a suite for Dad—may be the best choice for your family.

4. Elderly Parents Reject or Resist the Need for Care

Caring for elderly parents and navigating conflict becomes even more difficult when parents don’t recognize that a change is needed.

Perhaps you’re no longer physically able to help Mom. The problem is, Mom doesn’t think she needs outside care…and your sister who lives 300 miles away suddenly decides that Mom should stay at home.

If you’re facing a difficult situation, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Listen to your parents. Hear out their concerns about their future before making a decision.
  • Find common ground. See what you and your parents can agree on—for instance, that Dad isn’t safe to drive anymore.
  • Address the emotions involved. There’s more at stake than mere facts for your parent. More than likely, emotions are running high. Instead of coldly discussing why Mom needs better care, take her for a tour so she can see that assisted living isn’t a nursing home but a wonderful solution for the isolation she’s experiencing.

From resistant parents to squabbling siblings, when you’re facing family conflict, it’s important to avoid stoking the fires of interpersonal disagreements and focus on finding a solution…

And that’s where The Ashford comes in.

At The Ashford, we provide affordable assisted living communities for common senior care challenges such as….

  • Caregiver physical burnout.
  • Poor-quality family time.
  • High-priced care fees.
  • And more!

If you’re in the middle of a family conflict, reach out to us so we can provide support for your unique situation