Avoid Damaging Family Relationships & Still Make the Best Decisions for Mom
By: Camila Cal, SeniorLivingGuide.com
Every part of the Alzheimer’s journey can be difficult, not only for the person experiencing the disease, but for their family members as well. More often than not, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia can be life-changing and cause a strain on family relationships. On the SeniorLivingGuide Podcast: A Candid Conversation: How Mom’s Dementia Hurt My Relationship with My Sister, host Darleen Mahoney is joined by Valerie, a dear friend that has experienced this type of familial hardship that arises when trying to find the best course of action for taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Valerie and her sister both had a role in caring for their mother who has Alzheimer’s. Different decisions needed to be made as Valerie’s mom’s Alzheimer’s progressed, and she and her sister began to disagree on care. It became a power struggle and took a toll on their relationship, which was quite unexpected as Valerie had always had such a close relationship with her sister. These were unchartered waters for Valerie and her sister, and they both had to learn to navigate how to keep their relationship intact while making the best decisions for their mother who was in decline from Alzheimer’s.
However, Valerie was very successful in navigating those waters and she has provided crucial tips that worked well for her and her situation on how to best handle family conflicts and relationship strains:
- Face-to-face communications is always preferable. Over text, communication can break down or become misconstrued. You can’t always be sure what the other person is feeling. When you can look your family member in the eye, it is a reminder that you are both real people with real feelings and the argument will likely land in a better place.
- Take the emotion out of your responses. Remember that you are both going through a difficult time, and the priority is to find a solution for your loved one experiencing the disease.
- Share facts and research. Don’t assume that the other person should take you at your word. This is most likely new terrain for both parties! Show them the proof. For example, share research about how assisted living might be a good choice for someone with Alzheimer’s, call hotlines to obtain more information, or visit an expert (like a doctor) together and ask questions. Relying on data and experts can ease tensions.
- Lean on support systems. If you feel like you have used all of your tools and still can’t resolve the conflict, try reaching out to caregiver support groups that might be able to steer you in a direction you hadn’t thought of. Don’t be afraid to share – likely, you will also find comfort knowing you are not alone in what you are experiencing.
- Give the other person time. Processing a loved one having Alzheimer’s is no easy feat for anyone involved. When tensions run high, try to give each other some grace by acknowledging that the situation is hard and very emotional. Take some time for yourselves, and plan to regroup later. Sometimes taking a second to breathe, clear your mind, and reflect can make a huge difference.
Through all the ups and downs, it’s important to remember that you are all on the same team with have the same mission of working together so that your loved one can have a smooth, happy transition into a new phase of their life.
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