Learn How To Avoid Common Sources of Family Tension

Family members sometimes disagree about how to support an older relative.

Families can avoid or reduce conflicts by:

  • Asking older family members about their needs, wishes and priorities

  • Asking older family members about their financial and legal plans

  • Explaining why they are asking and how they will use the information

  • Discussing concerns, tasks and plans with everyone involved

  • Sharing information and making decisions together

  • Taking turns helping or splitting up tasks

  • Asking trusted friends, community leaders or counselors to guide big or difficult family discussions

Common sources of tension when helping older family members include:

  • Feeling that others aren't doing their fair share

  • Feeling left out, unappreciated or taken advantage of

  • Not feeling listened to

  • Resentment towards "favorite" family members

  • Concerns about safety or finances

  • Disagreements about how to balance safety and independence

  • Expecting women to help more than men

  • Stress about balancing work, family and other responsibilities

Families can more easily work through disagreements if family members:

  • Say what they have seen or heard that concerns them

  • Share concerns without blaming or attacking others

  • Ask about and try to understand others' points of view

  • Are open to new information and different perspectives

  • Are aware of how they and others respond to stress

  • Manage stress by taking care of themselves

  • Try not to take things personally

  • Avoid bringing up old arguments

  • Are aware of and try to avoid difficult family patterns like old arguments