Alzheimer’s & Family Conflict – How to Deal with It

Published May 23, 2015 in Alzheimer's  By  Ohad J. Pearl, MPH
Alzheimers & Family Conflict

Alzheimer’s disease tends to trigger stress in families, especially after a loved one is diagnosed with it. However, like any family conflict, this tribulation calls for working together and dealing with it upfront and openly. Of course, it could be devastating to find out about a loved one enduring this dreaded condition – you could feel sadness, fear, anger or even frustration. This surge of emotions and the constant stress of conflict can become a regular affair, all while family members are trying to adapt to this new situation. As one unit, this is the best option to tackling Alzheimer’s and addressing its burden.

Divide the Responsibilities:

Every member of the family can bring a different set of resources or capabilities. For example, a sister might be good at taking care of the ailing member, while someone like a nephew might be good with offering errands or chores. Even more, a relative with strong finances might provide the ability to fund care financially. In the end, it is important to understand what each member of the family can provide to not only minimize the burden from their loved one, but also create a livable situation for all.

Meet Up:

Meeting up regularly with the family member affected by Alzheimer’s and close relatives, including their caregivers is very important. Upon meeting, it is important to discuss the responsibilities of every member, challenges experienced thus far and any changes, if needed. Throughout the discussion, everyone should be transparent and be ready for changes that were probably not even considered. When there are difficulties meeting face-to-face (due to lack of time, or distance to travel, etc.), video conferencing or phone calls should be the immediate next solution. In addition, to maintain good communication and sharing of information emails and social media accounts can be a great benefit. However, if there are challenges aside from the immediate care of your loved one, such as personality conflicts between siblings or other family members, it would be wise to seek professional help – a geriatric care manager or counselor.

Stay Truthful:

Of course, tension builds up when a loved one is diagnosed with a health condition and a surge of uncontrollable emotions over them doesn’t help. Instead, talking openly about your emotions and the situation itself can help. Sharing that this burden feels overwhelming is a positive step in allowing everyone else to be transparent. Try to avoid any blame during this time because no one other than the disease itself brought on Alzheimer’s to the family member. Even during these early meetings, when emotions run high and everyone is searching for answers, it is important to remain calm and comprehend that the family is in this together and simply looking to adapt to this situation. Always talk about yourself and give a keen ear and remain open-minded during discussions. Also, never criticize any member’s support or care, because everyone has different ways of expressing their love and care. Being judgmental can break that fragile balance.

Find Professional Help:

Get professional help when needed. Alzheimer’s can take a large toll on everyone involved and if you think it is tearing everyone apart and breaking family ties, seeking professional help or going for family counseling is a good idea. Working out issues and conflicts will help you move forward and give more time to care for your loved one, when they need it the most.