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How to Resolve Family Disagreements About In-Home Senior Care

Caregivers for in home care

As seniors age, new challenges present themselves. This can be a period of tremendous growth and love, but also a very stressful and challenging time. No matter the cause, disagreements often creep up as siblings and other family members differ as to the best way to care for their aging loved ones. And don’t forget seniors themselves! They can and should have a say in the home care they receive. With so many involved, it’s no wonder that this can add tension to an already stressful situation.

The good news is that there are strategies you can use to help alleviate some of the disagreement that goes into choosing a caregiver and a caregiving plan. Read on to find out how.

Levels of responsibility

One of the biggest sources of disagreement is just how much care seniors actually need. From help preparing meals to transportation and medication management, every senior is an individual with specific strengths and weaknesses. It’s a good idea to assess what is needed before discussing who will be doing what.

Once you have a plan as to what type of in-home senior care services are needed, you can begin to talk about your family’s ability to provide care. For example, if your loved one needs companionship and help with light housekeeping, one person or family may be able to provide help with each need. It’s also important to consider the following.

  • Do family members live close by?
  • How much time can you and your family members devote to meeting your loved one’s needs?
  • Will resentment pop up if some family members are doing more work than others?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or your loved one’s needs are more than you can handle, it may be wise to consider a home healthcare agency to assist.


There isn’t a one-size fits all model for good communication, but there are some things you can do to help make it as effective as possible. It’s important to realize ahead of time that disagreements may come up. With this in mind, you can prepare to manage expectations. For example, be very clear about who will be doing what. If you have volunteered to manage your loved one’s finances, follow through. You should be able to expect the same from other family members, but if not, it’s best to head conflict off early by talking about your frustrations. This way, you deal with these issues before the stress of caregiving makes resolving conflicts feel even more challenging.

Here are a few other options to try.

Use a mediator

When tensions are high, interpersonal issues often cloud our judgment. A neutral mediator will be able to address the situation from an unbiased point of view and help you find practical solutions.

There is no shortage of resources for mediation, depending upon your specific circumstances. For example, if you and your family differ over how capable your senior loved one is at managing his or her medical issues, it may help to hire a professional caregiver. A caregiver or in-home senior care agency will be able to provide an assessment and  recommend a care plan.

Put it in writing

In stressful situations, we don’t remember details as well. To avoid conflict, it’s a good idea to write down who will do what. You can send an email, create a spreadsheet, or just jot it down on a piece of paper. The point is to have a record of what you discussed to refer back to and make sure that everyone has a copy. By having a printed record, you’ll be able to eliminate ambiguity and nip disagreements in the bud.

Meet regularly

Communication is key and one of the best things you can do to avoid arguments is to keep in touch. Whether it’s via Skype or Zoom, over the phone, or in person, it’s important to regularly meet to update each other on progress, concerns, and areas that need improvement.

It’s also a good idea to include key professionals in at least some of your meetings. Caregivers, medical professionals, and legal professionals should be kept informed and up to date.


Listening involves more than just hearing what another person is saying. To avoid conflict, you must also try to understand and be empathetic. Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Think about whether you would do things differently and why. It’s fine to give advice, so long as it doesn’t add to an already stressful situation and is given in a loving, supportive way.

It’s also important to be clear about your needs clearly, as well as to be receptive and understanding when the other person does the same.

Seek support

You are not alone! Whether you feel it would be helpful to join a caregiver support group, talk to a professional, or simply vent your frustrations to a friend, remember that you will be better able to care for your loved one if you take care of yourself.

Caring for senior loved ones is challenging but also rewarding. With a little help and a lot of empathy and understanding, you can provide the best care for both your loved one and yourself.