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When Caregiving Becomes a Priority, Relationships Can Suffer

No matter how close you are with a spouse, siblings, children or care recipient, conflicts can simmer

Man looking at people: Common Caregiving Conflicts


En español | Caring for an older family member can have a profound effect on your attention, energy, time and stress level.

So it's not surprising that caregiving can affect various relationships in your life — but the extent of the impact sometimes catches caregivers by surprise. In some cases, caregiving can bring people closer together and strengthen their relationship; in others, it can lead to schisms and weaken bonds.

“The effects depend partly on the history you have with the family member. If you were close and had a healthy foundation to the relationship, caregiving can enhance the relationship,” says Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, a visiting professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis. “But it can wreak havoc in relationships that have had lots of tensions and conflicts along the way.”

The following articles take a close look at how caregiving can affect relationships in your life, with advice for how to navigate the challenges.

Stacey Colino is an independent, award-winning writer specializing in health, psychology and family issues. Her work has appeared in dozens of national magazines as well as websites and books.