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Family Caregiving for Seniors - SageCorner Blog

The Toxic Caregiver

by Deah on Monday, August 28, 2017 4:53 PM

I find it amazing that people with the same common goal can have so many different opinions on how to get there. There always seems to be that one toxic person who can cause complications. I read somewhere that at the root of the “trouble maker” is the dissatisfied notion that he or she is not being paid enough attention. In my personal experience, I can see where this might be true. That one person might be present when siblings and/or other family members are providing joined caregiving duties. While most of the time it is enormously helpful to have their help, it can also be a source of grief and stress.

Trying to keep communication going is key. There is no text or email communication that is as good as talking to each other in person – especially where there is urgency or a deep concern. Good communication happens when we listen and are open to others’ viewpoints before we speak. If the person(s) you are caring for is capable, it is best to engage them into the communication as well, showing respect for their opinion. All parties involved are going to have to agree that there is going to be some difference of opinion and respect those differences to come to a decision that both honors the wishes of the care recipient and represents what is in his or her best interest. It is not a good decision if it is just in our own interest or if it requires bullying anyone into anything.

So many times, we bring the discord from our childhood relationships. It is so very important to keep those feelings in the past. Those roles we played in the family as children are often decades old and need to be let go. There is no handbook that says who should do what or how siblings should interact as mature adults. Have compassion for all loved ones involved and for yourself as well. While there is no excuse for negative behavior, try to recognize what others’ fears or issues may be. You can defuse a lot of conflict when you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Working with siblings to oversee a parent’s care can be complex and emotional. It is important to understand your own emotions, while taking your siblings feelings into account as well, even when you disagree. Communicate what is needed from all of you directly and specifically. If there is still conflict, you may want to consider bringing in a neutral person or an objective professional to help solve any problems that may be keeping you from what should be the common goal of safety and best care possible for you loved ones.

From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life. Those who cannot live fully often become destroyers of life. Anais Nin

If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct. Letty Cottin Pogrebin quotes

Blogs Parent Separator Deah Bowes
family conflict

Tips and ideas to help care for a senior loved one at home.


Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education.

Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education. 
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