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Tips for Resolving Family Conflict Between You and Your Senior Parent

It’d be great if family conflict and arguments softened with age, but the same patterns and hot buttons that existed throughout our life can be exacerbated when the adult child becomes the caregiver. Here’s how to work through conflicts and come to a place of peace and understanding.

Get Rid of Your Perceptions About How Things Should Be

One way to deal with family conflict is to accept the way things are rather than hoping for a better relationship. Resentments and disappointments you had as a child can come to the forefront when you become the caregiver.

Don’t bring any old baggage to the new situation. Instead, look at this new phase of your life as a clean slate, and deal with the challenges of the current day, not those from the past. You might find that you can forge a brand-new and even better relationship with your parent now that you’re the caregiver.

Watch for Hot Buttons

If you’re mindful of the issues that cause caregiver stress, you’ll be better equipped to avoid them. For instance, you might find that you’re more likely to snap at your parent when you’re tired and having a big discussion, so take some time to center yourself before you broach a topic you know will cause some tension. Another instance that might lead to some fireworks is family gatherings. When the siblings come to town, be prepared for any butting of heads. If you recognize potential situations ahead of time, you’ll be more ready to react properly.

Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude

Caregiving is a hard job, and it’s often done without acknowledgment or gratitude from your parent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about the work you’re doing or find peace all by yourself. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to get a handle on stress. When considering grateful thoughts, you become more mindful and concentrate on positive events instead of feeling the stress of negative events.

Ask for Your Parent’s Help in How to Get Along

When you and your senior parent are fighting, ask them how they would approach the situation if things were reversed. Say something like, “I want to make sure that I give you the kind of care you need, but you seem angry with me about it. How can we make things better between us?”

This approach will help your parent feel more like an active part of your relationship. You don’t want them to feel like a bystander in your house. If you ask them for their assistance and input to resolve situations, they’ll be more apt to keep the peace.

When conflicts arise between you and your live-in senior, it can lead to a snowball of stress, especially because the problem is under your own roof and you can’t get away. By using these tips, you’ll be better able to defuse thorny situations and lower your own stress level.

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