Sandwich Generation: Tips to minimize care-giving conflict

  • Apr. 13, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Wendy Johnstone

Special to The Record

Navigating difficult or awkward conversations can, if not handled correctly, create conflict between caregivers and the people they are caring for.

Whether it is someone caring for a relative with a disability such as a brain injury or developmental disability, or an adult child caring for an aging parent, avoiding conflict or dealing with tension is a common topic we hear about.

Here are some tips to minimize family conflict when caring for aging relatives:

• Stay on equal footing:  Family members who are the primary caregiver for the people they are caring for often become the “experts” and this can feel intimidating for long-distance caregivers or for those working full time or raising a family. This lack of confidence may come across as criticism simply because that person just “doesn’t know”. The primary caregiver can be so used to “doing it all”, they may have a difficult time letting go of the reins. Being honest about what each caregiver needs and inviting each other into a dialogue around problem solving puts everyone on the level ground.

• Be careful how competent you are: Caregivers need to be very competent when it comes to caring for elderly parents. Sometimes, family caregivers don’t realize the primary caregiver needs a break because they make it look so easy.  Be open and willing to share your feelings of burnout and ask for help.

• Give yourself extra time:  One of the best way out-of-town caregivers can help is to come and help in person. There can be a lot to talk about, so prepare to come a little earlier so the primary caregiver doesn’t feel rushed or stressed about getting all the information down. Being specific about the type of help that is needed is also very helpful and primary caregivers should consider writing a detailed list.

• Know what you want: If you’re the main caregiver, be clear. Do you want a sibling to relieve you at some point? Do you want whoever can afford it to hire someone to come in and help you? Or do you actually want to be in charge of everything, but want to be acknowledged and thanked?

• Share financials: Caregivers who are given financial authority should share details about expenses with the others on the care team, even when not asked.  Being transparent helps to build trust.

• Be part of the solution: If you find yourself in conflict with a family member, step back and get some perspective. Consider your role in the conflict, and ask yourself if you’re acting out an old family role or resentment. Avoid talking when angry and seek support and insight.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs regularly in the Comox Valley Record.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shelter Point Distillery won several Canadian Whisky Awards this year, including a gold for best single malt. Facebook photo
Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery wins gold for single malt

Business won nine medals at recent Canadian Whisky Awards virtual ceremony

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in workplace accident at Gold River logging site

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

Most Read