Caring Conversations: How to Talk with Family about Caregiving

Pauline Coderre

Caring Conversations: How to Talk with Family about Caregiving

Pauline Coderre
How to talk with family about caregiving

Caregiving can cause tension among family members if roles and responsibilities aren’t discussed frankly. Although it can be tough to talk with family about caregiving issues, making a plan ahead of time can help reduce stress. Here are some things you can do to prepare to tackle this difficult topic.

Make a list.

Decide on the topics you want to discuss. This can help keep the conversation on track as well as help diffuse tension since everyone is following the same plan. If you need help coming up with ideas, the AARP website offers a checklist on page 8 of this document of areas that might need your attention.

Gather the key players in your family.

Everyone who will be involved in decision-making or caregiving should have a place at the table. If family members live in different parts of the country, consider video chatting or getting on a conference call with the group. It’s important to engage everyone in these conversations to make sure their voices are heard. This helps minimize resentment and build consensus.

Consider roles within your family – and outside of it.

If your family members all live nearby, it may be easier to decide who helps with what, and when. If you live farther apart, it’s even more important to define everyone’s roles and spread around the responsibility as much as possible. You may want to consider hiring professionals to help with some caregiving responsibilities. Discuss what tasks or needs a professional might be better equipped to handle or assist with.

Plan to meet again (and again).

Remember: disagreements are almost inevitable. Don’t try to make every single decision in one sitting. It’s okay to return to certain topics another time, especially if emotions are running high. And it’s possible that certain issues are best revisited in the future. You’ll want to continue meeting with some or all of your family members as time goes on to reassess your plans as needed – and just to check in with one another.

Be kind to yourself (and your family).

Making family caregiving decisions can be emotional and difficult, and you may find yourself feeling resentful, sad, exhausted, or stressed out. These feelings are natural, and it’s okay to have them. It’s important to give yourself time to accept the changes taking place in your family.

Remember that your family is still your family, even if tensions are high. Try to give your family members the same grace you’re striving to give yourself. Once everyone settles into a new routine, things may feel more normal.

This is the fourth of a ten-part Caring Conversation blog series that provides caregivers with inspiration, resources, and useful tips. Caring Conversation blogs are produced through a partnership with Lilly for Better Health.

Other posts in the series:

Caring Conversations: A Lilly for Better Health and Caregiving.com Partnership

Caring Conversations: Caregiver Loneliness During the Holidays

Caring Conversations: Who is a caregiver?

Caring Conversations: 2016 tax tips for caregivers

Caring Conversations: Self-care tips for caregivers

Caring Conversations: Building A Supportive Caregiving Community

Caring Conversations: How To Help A Caregiver

Caring Conversations: How To Advocate For The Person You Care For

Caring Conversations: A Caregiver's Guide To Elder Law

Lilly for Better Health is also having Caring Conversations with Joy’s House. You can listen to the first and second installments online.