The Politics of Caregiving: How to Avoid Creating Enemies


Politics are everywhere including in caregiving relationships. If watching politicians flip flop in between opinions and parties isn’t enough to push one over the edge, trying to manage the politics of caregiving can pose similar challenges. 

Caregiving situations where multiple family members are involved present a similar situation when there are contrasting opinions. There are times when it’s difficult to know who is being helpful and who only wants to cause problems. 

How might a caregiver be likened to a politician? What can be done to avoid a caregiver creating enemies with family and service providers who might be involved in care situations? Honestly, there are times when even I look at a situation and see it to be pure without reason or a logical thought process. What might a caregiver embroiled in a political battle between family members do to survive?

Below are three tips to help caregivers survive political battles and make friends versus creating enemies.

  • When parents campaign for attention (the triangulation nightmare)
  • Managing a tight budget (rather than creating more debt)
  • Getting along without creating enemies (compromise is helpful)

Talking about individuals who are not present to participate in a conversation or being unsupportive of a care situation by making derogatory remarks or comments is never helpful to the overall situation. Many times parents will spin information by reporting that someone else said “this” and world war between family members ensues.

Does the parent know the situation he or she is creating? Maybe or maybe not. What happens when adult children talk poorly about siblings?

The same situation relative to a lack of respect exists. There are times when it is difficult to describe a situation without talking about others, However, if this is necessary be respectful and assume the best intentions.

Managing a tight budget— the U.S. government spends money it doesn’t have and much of our debt is owned by foreign countries which presents a dangerous situation. Caregiving families don’t have this option.

Many families eventually plan for Medicaid, which is public assistance for care, and then complain that they have to give up all of their mom or dad’s money. It’s impractical to have the government pay for care when families have money to pay for care.

Medicaid, many times, is an ethical dilemma between believing that one should be self-sufficient and pay for care versus the belief that the system owes individuals and the government should be responsible for health care.

It is possible to get along without creating enemies? Who doesn’t love an occasional good fight?

But in caregiving, you may win the battle but lose the war if the person you annihilated is a person with whom you must have a long-term relationship. There is no point in creating adversaries if one can create collaboration.

Agreed that all may not agree but at a minimum reducing disagreement is helpful for a situation. Most parents don’t want adult children fighting over care situations. Some parents lack the mental capacity to understand that their children are fighting. And over what—usually money, control, or self-interest.

Better situations result when all disagreeing parties are able to come to a compromise and focus on the care needs and the best interest of the parent or individual in question. While battles often begin when adult children are young, these turf wars or slights continue as adult children age and are sometimes never forgotten or never forgiven.

Who received the Barbie Doll and who received the rag doll? Were you the child who received the new prom dress or the child who wore hand-me-downs and felt that you should not complain? The son who had an amazing train set while your brother was lucky to receive a Tonka truck.

Loved ones, your parents, grandparents, brothers, or sisters, are not territories over which to fight. They are individuals who benefit from family members who are able to work together rather than engaging in knockdown drag-em-out battles that one day will be worthless when a loved one passes and the only memories remaining are of fighting the battle and losing the war.

Leave politics to the politicians, many of who seem to view dishonesty, slander, and inappropriate behavior as the rule of the day.

Looking to build caregiving skills? Check out Pamela’s complimentary online caregiver program. 

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