How to Care for a Difficult Relative


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Helping a Hard-to-Help Relative

Older man

Four techniques to help you 'do' for a difficult loved one while protecting yourself from frustration and burnout.

By Leonard Felder

Millions of women and men who have an aging, ailing, or disabled family member are faced each day with the challenge of trying to help this person in the midst of your other responsibilities and busy schedule. Over 50 percent of family caregivers have to deal with a family member's uncooperative personality or stubborn resistance to being helped.

Whether you are trying to assist an aging parent, a mentally ill sibling or child, an addicted family member, or just trying to get your spouse or your grown child to go see a health practitioner, the personality clashes and power struggles can be extremely frustrating. It might be a family member who is in denial about his or her condition. Or someone who just won't do what the doctor or healer has suggested. Or a relative who bombards you with complaints and demands, but then is unwilling to follow through on any suggestions or arrangements you try to offer.

Here are four specific techniques so that you can come through effectively for your troubled loved ones and not become burned out because of this person's repeated attempts to ignore or sabotage your assistance.

Click for the first coping strategy.

Excerpted from When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People, by Leonard Felder, Ph.D. (Rodale Inc.), Printed with the permission of the publisher. Available at and wherever books are sold.

Related Topics: Health Support