For most families, the holidays are an opportunity to celebrate our love, gratitude, and appreciation for one another. But occasionally, the “perfect” holiday dinner can become less about togetherness and more about rehashing old arguments or addressing tension and stress that has been lingering under the surface, especially if one or more of you are working together (or not) to provide care for Mom or Dad.
This year, get help resolving the conflicts that frequently prevent families from acting as unified caregiving team. Simply explore these 4 helpful tips to get started before family dynamics go sour and turn your holidays into chaos and - more importantly - your family into negativity.
1. Understand Your Own Feelings
One key to successful communication is understanding yourself and your triggers. Before you approach a discussion about a difficult topic, take a step back and consider your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Take the time to prepare.
2. Work More Effectively with your Siblings
When adult siblings are taking care of elderly parents or other relatives, things can get complicated quickly. Old rivalries, past arguments, and childhood family roles may rise to the surface and interfere with decision making and taking care of your loved one. You and your siblings may disagree about residence choices, costly financial decisions, medical treatment options, and caregiver responsibilities. Here are some simply principles to follow during the process:
- Include your loved one in discussions and decision making.
- Include all siblings as much as possible.
- Name the elephant in the room. Be honest! Be upfront with one another!
- Abandon stereotypes and divide responsibilities according to your talents, interests, and practical abilities.
- Identify ways that a long-distance sibling can help.
3. Get Outside help to Resolve Family Disagreements
When it seems impossible to resolve conflicts or questions aregarding elder care for your loved one, it’s time for outside help from a social worker or professional mediator. There is NO shame in reaching out to a 3rd party to help defuse family tension and to figure out the best solution to meet your loved one’s needs.
4. Finding a Mediator in Your Area
Go to Mediate.com's Mediator Directory to locate a service provider in your area. You can search by:
- Area of interest (in this case select "elder")
- City, state, area code, and county
Be sure to check references, training and experience in the course of selecting a mediator to work with you and your family.
Breathe and Be Kind
When it comes to taking care of your loved one, it's sometimes impossible to get everyone in the family on the same page. Recognize this is hard stuff - together. Ultimately, be creative. And Always be Kind. It matters. Then, hopefully, you can all enjoy being together and full of gratitude, when the holidays arrive.