Adapting to Changes in Family Relationships


Adapting to Changes in Family Relationships

Part of getting used to being a caregiver is adjusting to how you interact with your family members.  Before becoming their caregiver, you functioned as a parent, sibling, child, spouse, partner, etc. Now, regardless of your prior role, or whether you are younger or older than them, you begin acting like their “parent.” Sometimes, parents and siblings have difficulty “taking orders” from someone they formerly controlled. As a result, difficult family relationships develop for the caregiver as “sides” other family members take sides in support of parents or siblings who feel unfairly treated.

From the care receiver’s point of view, a caregiver takes complete control of their world. In some cases, the family member graciously accepts letting someone else take control, thankful for all help received without pushback. However, in others, the caregiver is met with resentment, anger, and hostility, representing all that is wrong with that person’s current life status. When the latter becomes part of the adjustment process, caregivers face an even greater challenge adapting to their new roles.

 Counseling Maybe Needed to Help with Adjustment

If you believe that role reversal plays a part in your struggles with care issues, I recommend bringing that concern into the open. Talk to your family member about their feelings.  In many cases, the behavior displayed is related to grief and fear coming out as anger. Counseling or a support group often helps with the adjustment process when someone has difficulty accepting the impact of their illness or accident.

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