Family conflict and ageing dependents

What You Should Know
by Frank Morris
Retirement Housing and Aged Care - Q&A Forum

The great family conflict arises when our parents become our dependents.

"It's tough for both parties," says a leading psychologist.

At the outset, before ill-health takes over, the carer should inform his or her dependent what will happen if they become infirm or incapacitated and not able to be cared for at home.

It will be less difficult at this point in the relationship than when a crisis situation develops.

"No amount of planning will ever be enough," says the psychologist.

"One of the biggest problems ... is denial about aged care and the impact this has on the family."

If the carer raises this fact early in the piece there is every opportunity to find a solution that will suit everyone's needs.

Despite their infirmity some older people refuse to budge from their home, no matter what pressure it brings to bear on the family carers.

As carer X says: "Although she realises the current situation is unworkable, my mother flatly refuses to contemplate moving to a nursing home."

Carer X says she is simply maintaining a difficult situation, with the support of community care workers. "Things can't go on like this forever."

(Excerpt from the Working Carer's Manual compiled by Frank Morris. Published by Which Care? Publications.)