Conflicts can arise when a family member has Alzheimer’s. Carole Larkin, a geriatric care manager in the Dallas area, says that 30% of her family clients experience conflict. And she says that is doubled for blended families. Most conflict centers around what type of care should be provided to the person with Alzheimer’s. Other arguments typically involve money and facility placement.
According to an article on the Mayo Clinic website, family therapy is “a type of psychological counseling done to help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.”
The Mayo Clinic article states, “Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger or conflict.” Having a family member with Alzheimer’s usually causes all of those.
The article continues, “It can help you and your family members understand one another better and bring you closer together. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions.”
Conflict is to be expected even in the best of families, and this can increase if one member has a serious disease, such as Alzheimer’s, that requires extensive caregiving.
So how do you know if professional counseling could be needed for your family? I would suggest you consider it if at least one family member’s mental health and daily functioning are being seriously affected by the strife.
Another sign – and an important one – that outside help is needed would be if the constant bickering is negatively impacting the quality of care being provided to the person with Alzheimer’s.
What If Some Family Members Refuse to Participate? Don’t be surprised if some family members flat out refuse to take part. And don’t be surprised if it’s the one(s) considered by others to be the source of much of the conflict.
You might try having their primary care provider, clergy person, or lawyer speak to them about it. Sometimes people pay more attention to someone outside the family.
If they still refuse, the other family members can go ahead without them. The therapy may still be helpful to the ones who do go, and it may help them better cope with the one who won’t attend the sessions.