How to Tackle Difficult Care Conversations to Strengthen Family Relationships

Two women stand in the kitchen sharing a cup of coffee and having difficult care conversations.Any time you dedicate so much time to caring for an older family member, it is natural for other relationships to take a back seat. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can only spread yourself so thin. This may lead to additional stress, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.

The key to overcoming this obstacle is communication. This means having conversations that could be uncomfortable but permit the opportunity to share feelings, air grievances, and ultimately reinforce the love you have for each other.

Kicking Off a Courageous Care Conversation

First, understand that a planned, formal meeting isn’t required for a care conversation to be effective. It can be a brief chat while waiting for the coffee to brew. It should not, however, be a blurted-out response to a stress-inducing incident. Attempt to speak about a problem before the stress has an opportunity to build up to an explosive level (or once you’ve had the chance to calm down).

Here’s an example scenario and how to include a courageous conversation. Your teenager is feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed about having friends over because of the dementia-related behaviors of your elderly parent. Begin with this quick assessment to find the answers for yourself along with your teen:

  • What goals do we wish to accomplish from this conversation?
  • What exactly are each of us feeling and thinking?
  • What do we have to give and receive?
  • What do we need from one another?
  • What would we like each other to know?

Include in your assessment the feelings of the person in your care as well. In particular, before the cognitive decline, determine what your mom would want for you personally as well as your daughter.

With this particular framework in mind, allow yourself to be truthful, authentic, and vulnerable. Listen to each other’s perspective respectfully, offer empathy and understanding, and collaborate to create a viable solution.

Is It Better Left Unsaid?

You may feel as though it’s better to preserve status quo than to risk upsetting a family member by initiating a hard conversation. And undoubtedly, situations may arise that are best resolved through another means, such as by speaking with a professional therapist to unravel your thoughts and feelings prior to approaching someone else with them. As a general rule of thumb, however, nothing beats open, honest communication to allow you and those you care about to better understand one another.

Let a Generations at Home caregiver help you carve out time for the conversations you need with other members of the family by providing skilled, professional in-home care for the older adult you love. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for more information about our home care services.