We all know that some personalities don't get along well.
There's the person with the loud and flamboyant personality to your quiet, introverted one. Or the one who is the heroine of all her stories, who makes you want to scream. What about the one who always looks grumpy to you? Or someone who is always too busy to give you the time of day?
Taking personality out of the mix, culture has a significant effect on how we act and interact with others. Family background, environment--it's a miracle any of us get along. Most of us can find a common ground and a way to connect with most people. Most of the time, it's great and we are enriched by relationships with people who aren't like us.
What about the times when it doesn't work?
Sometimes, we can forge a working relationship with someone who we would never choose to spend time with. We can make it work if we focus on the task at hand and make interactions brief.
What happens when that's not possible?
The relationship between the care partner and the elder is a special one. It's a relationship, and both partners contribute. If you, as a family member, sense it isn't working, what do you do?
1. Give it some time. There is a period of adjustment when someone moves into care, and it's necessary for everyone to get to know each other. The care partner needs to lear the elder's routines, and how they like things done. The elder needs to communicate their preferences, and sometimes this takes several days. They need to get to know each other as people.
2. Talk to the care partner one-on-one. It's usually best to do this when the elder isn't in the room, and when things are as relaxed as possible. Trying to address the situation in the middle of a confrontation probably won't give you the best outcome. Address the concerns, but rather than being confrontational, come at it with an attitude of "how can I help to make things better?" Listen. Be open. Look for practical ways you can improve the situation. Try to convey to the care partner that we are all on the same team here.
3. What you do next depends on the outcome of your talk. If you felt progress was made, you need to give it more time again. Look for ways to encourage the relationship and connect with the care partner in the next several weeks. If your attempts were met with defensiveness, or even anger, it's time to make an appointment with someone in administration, perhaps the director of care. During this meeting, have notes from your meeting and other issues that you feel are a problem. Be comprehensive, but not nit-picky. Remember to continue to look for solutions.
4. The administration may want to bring the care partner in, either with you or in private, to address the issues. You may want to wait a little longer, to see if this helps, depending on the seriousness of the conflicts. Or, you may decide to ask for a switch. It's possible to switch assignments, so that the care partner in question works with another resident, and another care partner works with your elder. Although not common, this happens and in some circumstances it is better for both.
The end result you want is harmony and a relationship that benefits both.
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Care Partner Wednesday--When You Can't Make it Work