Elderly Caregiver - Are Primary Caregivers Shutting You Out?

Elderly Caregiver - Are Primary Caregivers Shutting You Out?

Do you want to be more involved in senior care with an aging parent or family member but find yourself hitting a brick wall every time you offer? In some cases where the primary caregiver has Power Of Attorney (POA) or feels that he or she has the best interests of the aging parent in mind, it's often difficult to see eye to eye in regard to medical decisions and care for that parent.

In other situations, the person legally responsible for an elderly parent may even succeed in driving a wedge between you and your parent. This tug-of-war causes a great deal of pain, resentment, and even grief for all parties involved.

Dealing with such situations requires a great deal of tact and diplomacy.

Communicating With A Primary Elderly Caregiver

In many situations involving the care of an elderly parent, the primary caregiver is more than willing to ask for and accept help from siblings, extended family members, and community options. However, there are times when the primary caregiver is resistant to allowing anyone but them to make decisions regarding the care of a parent, how such care should be managed, or who will share in the responsibilities.

Elderly Caregiver Sibling

Most often, we hear about siblings who don't want to be involved in the care of a parent, but what about those situations where siblings and other family members want to be involved, but are pushed away? An elderly caregiver who refuses to relinquish power or control over the care of an aging parent can make everyone uncomfortable and miserable. In many cases, the primary caregiver believes that she is the only person who can adequately make decisions or provide care for a parent, but the truth is the responsibility of providing such care can, in a surprisingly short period of time, become an overwhelming burden.

What issues are difficult for you when caring for Mom and Dad? Click here to see what others are saying and to share your experience.

Discussing such concerns with an elderly caregiver is the first step toward communicating the needs of other family members in the care of a parent. Remind the primary caregiver that excellent and quality care cannot be achieved when one person is primarily responsible for such care. Stress, resentment, and frayed nerves often cause poor judgment and decisions on the part of a caregiver who takes on the sole responsibility of caring for a parent, whether at home or for one who is placed in a long-term care facility.

Tips For Discussing Concerns With A Primary Caregiver

When addressing concerns during one-on-one or family group discussions with the primary elderly caregiver, it is essential to keep the situation as calm and nonthreatening as possible. Remember some of the following tips that concerned family members may take when initiating such a conversation:

  • Take a non-accusing approach.
  • Be honest and upfront regarding your feelings about being left out of the care and decisions for an elderly parent or senior family member.
  • Discuss your willingness to help in any way.
  • Ensure the primary caregiver that you have the parent's health and mental well being in mind and that you as a child or extended family member do have a right to be a part of the elderly person's life and care.
  • Focus discussion on "I" statements rather than accusing "You" statements.
  • Explain to the primary caregiver what you are willing, able, and available to do in terms of care giving, decision-making, or financial planning.
  • Suggest a division of tasks or responsibilities among siblings or family members willing to take on portions of care giving
Elderly Caregiver Sibling Sisters Arguing

Dealing With Emotions

In many cases, a primary caregiver is reluctant to relinquish duties or responsibilities, even though he or she complains that no one wants to help. In some cases, it is necessary to remember that the primary caregiver may be afraid to relinquish some control for a variety of reasons, including a close relationship with the parent, or admiration from others regarding their selflessness. In some situations, primary caregivers develop what may almost be termed as a martyr complex, whereby their consuming dedication to the care of a parent offers them the attention, respect and admiration that may be lacking in their lives.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with a stubborn primary caregiver is not an easy task, and requires extra doses of patience, compassion and understanding on the part of secondary caregivers as well as extended family members.

Anger, resentment, shouting and arguments don't get anyone anywhere, and may cause additional distress to the elderly parent.

Whenever possible, resolve issues and complaints in a private location, and try to determine why the primary caregiver is so hesitant to relinquish control before attending any family meetings or one-on-one discussions. Most importantly, keep the elderly parent's best interests in mind when initiating or pursuing such discussions. 

Sibling Stress as Elderly Caregiver to Elderly Parents Stress Page

Do you resent being the "chosen one" caregiver to your elderly parent?

Are you angry that your siblings do not contribute as much as they should? Mom and Dad expecting too much?

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Youngest in Family of 4 Not rated yet
My mother and father are both being taken care of by my older brother. Suddenly my sister was removed from executor and my brother was assigned as caregiver, …

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Out of the four siblings… I am the only divorced family member and therefore the easy choice to be the caregiver to my father. I feel somewhat isolated …

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My mother has been ill for sometime now. But recently had to stay in rehabilitation due to pneumonia, and 2 strokes. She is now home but needs 24 hour …

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