Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Care Partner Wednesday--All in the Family

Families can be the best aspect of our lives, or the worst, or somewhere in between.

The reality is that if families aren't functioning well, or one member isn't, becoming a care partner will make this more difficult. Rather than fighting, dysfunctional families will often stay away from each other, having as little contact as possible in order to cope. That works until mother needs more care and has appointed all the siblings as joint powers of attorney.

Resentment can build quickly. How do you find a way to work together? It's not always possible, but here are a few suggestions.

What is your goal? If you want to bring the family together in harmony as you discuss your mother's issues, that's a great goal, but it may not be reasonable. If there hasn't been harmony to this point, being care partners together probably won't bring it. Try looking at small, reachable goals. Getting the right supports for mom to live independently.  Talking honestly about next steps.

Find your best method of communication. Technology makes communication possible, even if people live on the other side of the country. However, difficulties with communication are seldom related to physical space, but emotional. Think about the family member who frustrates you. How do they communicate best? Is face-to-face possible and desirable? Would a phone call work better? Maybe an email, where you have the time to think about what you want to say? Could you Skype as a family? Try to be flexible and find the method that makes the "difficult" person most comfortable.

Be clear. Express what is needed in the clearest, most non-confrontational way possible. Try not to be directive. "You need to..." Rather use phrases like, "The doctor said this was needed, how would you like to go forward?"

Leave your high horse at home. There may be words spoken that anger you or attitudes that make you want to retort in kind. There might be times when you have to seal your mouth with duct tape. Do it. This isn't about you or the other person, but about your elder. The other issues can be dealt with at a later time. (Or not. Sometimes you need to just, as the song says, "Let it go.")

Be realistic If all your best methods don't work, do what you have to do and go on alone. You have tried your best, and you are not responsible for the other person's actions.

Being a care partner when the family isn't working together, or is fighting against everything you are trying to do, is incredibly challenging. In the end, you are responsible for your reactions and no one else's. Concentrate on your relationship with you elder, and do your best.

Care Partner Wednesday--All in the Family Partner Wednesday--All in the Family

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