Section: Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice News

Managing Conflict and Family Dynamics While Caregiving


New Jersey -- Unless you’re a fictional television family, every family has its set of challenges. And when you’re a caregiver, these challenges will likely intensify due to additional financial, physical and emotional demands. But, by working together as a family, you can avoid caregiver stress and burnout and ultimately provide better care to your loved one.

Professionals from Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice advise that understanding why disagreements arise may help manage conflict and family dynamics.

Common Causes of Family Disagreements

  • Childhood roles and rivalries - When you bring a grown family together, it’s common for everyone to pick up their old roles and rivalries. Even though your brother may be married and have his own children, you may still see him as your “little brother” – unable to keep track of anything. Your sister – always a know-it-all growing up – is still the person you look to for advice. Your siblings still fight over who is the favorite child.
  • Disagreements over a loved one’s condition and capabilities – Differing views about your loved one’s condition and capabilities also creates conflict. Should your loved one continue to drive to maintain independence or is it time to turn in his keys?
  • Financial Matters – Finances can be a huge stressor for families. Where should your loved one live? What type of medical treatment can you afford? You may be dealing with resentment over income disparities and questions about the family estate.
  • Burden of Care – It’s typical for one person to take on the responsibility as the lead or sole caregiver due to a close relationship or close proximity. But whatever the case, the caregiver may become resentful.

Suggestions to Help Avoid Conflict

Avoid going right back to recurring arguments with your family members. To grow closer together and avoid major conflict while caregiving, Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice offers these suggestions:

  • Know Your Role – It’s important that everyone knows their role and responsibilities. Understand what your loved one needs, as well as what they’d like to do on their own. When caregiving as a group, determine your role and stick to it. Offer to help your loved ones with their roles, but try not to overstep.
  • Divide and Conquer – Set up a schedule and divvy up tasks. Understand that everyone has different capabilities, schedules and access to their loved one. Tasks may include: house chores, spending time together, managing finances and meal preparation. By working together and sharing in the responsibilities, your loved one will receive better care, and caregivers can avoid conflict and gain free time.
  • Talk – Keep the lines of communication open and be accessible. Offering support and answering questions can bring a family closer, even during a difficult time. With busy schedules it may be necessary to book a family meeting. This can be in person, over the phone or on video chat – whatever works best for your family. An open time to discuss concerns and give updates can be beneficial, and help clear up disagreements before they become problems.
  • Step Back – Be a part of the solution. Rather than getting defensive and argumentative over an issue, take a step back. When dealing with family, it’s common to feel a rush of emotions. Instead of making a decision you’ll regret, try to see the issue from a different perspective. You may be able to understand where they are coming from and help bring a solution to the table.
  • Look Outside the Family – Still arguing? Consider outside help from mediators to help resolve issues. Mediators can offer a unique, objective perspective to help you come up with a solution that will benefit everyone – especially your loved one.

For more information about caregiver support, visit

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