Harmful family secrets are those that create tension, conflict, and interfere with effective care planning. For example, out of fear of giving up her car keys and independence, an aging parent may hide the fact that her vision and reaction time are not what they used to be. Or maybe she hasn’t told anyone she’s fallen, but someone finally notices the bruises. Adult children have their secrets too. Maybe the son taking care of Dad’s checkbook has some financial problems of his own, and skims money from Dad’s account. Other common family secrets include bankruptcy, sexually transmitted diseases, multiple marriages, and children that not everyone knows about.

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