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Posted December 8, 2008

Ask An Expert

Caregiving Relationship: Handling Family Dissent on Parental Care

Q.  I care for my parents in my home, and have done so for five years. My Dad had a stroke, and I'm now contemplating care for Mom and Dad in a board and care facility. A cousin of mine emailed me her judgment that I was wrong to consider such care, and said she was praying for me, and said that they should be allowed to die at home. How best can I deal with those who judge the situation, when they aren't in a comparable spot? I'm thankful that I have no siblings to pass judgment; these issues are hard enough to manage, let alone with this type of outside critique.

Are there any good responses to use when others offer their opposite opinions? I just said, I'm confident in what I'm doing, and we will make the best decisions for Mom and Dad, when the time comes. And I let her know I wouldn't be discussing Mom and Dad issues with her in the future.

Susan T., Hercules, California.

A. Take heart that you are doing what you think is best for your parents. Let your cousin know that although you appreciate her opinion, this decision is between you and your parents. There is no "one size fits all" approach to taking care of aging parents, and if you are confident in your choice then go ahead and do what is right for your family. 

This answer is provided by Dr. Vivian Argento, a trained geriatrician and member of the geriatric medical team at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Dr. Argento is an expert in memory and medical problems affecting the elderly and serves as a clinical instructor at the Yale School of Medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She’s also a consultant both in and out of hospitals and cares for patients in various locations, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in their homes via a house calls program.

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