Question: In this blended family situation, the adult daughter of an elderly patient wants to be in charge of decisions and is resenting (and alienating) the spouse. What is the best way to deal with this?
Dr. Amy: When parents remarry, how well adult children get along with the new spouse can make a big difference to family harmony and caregiving. Where there is trust and respect—and where the adult children accept their parent’s new partner—it is less likely the children will interfere. Where there is low trust or where the new partner is not perceived to be taking good care of the parent, adult children may be more inclined to step in, since they want to protect their parent.
In your situation, it sounds like the best way forward is through conversation and negotiation. All the family members—and others who are involved—need to be consulted so that the facts can be established, feelings properly understood, and a plan developed. One of the best ways to do this is by working with a geriatric care manager. I am a big fan of geriatric care managers because they really understand older adults’ health, psychology, and human development. They can help everyone involved have an open conversation, get the issues on the table and make decisions about who is going to do what, when. I encourage you to read a little more about geriatric care managers.
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