Just like it takes a village to raise a child, a village comes in handy when caring for an aging loved one too. However, get different personalities and points of view together and you are bound to have issues. The key is how you stay connected and work through the issues, while keeping your loved one’s quality of life in mind, that is the key.
Agree to disagree: There will be times during the caregiving journey when not everyone in your family or extended circle of care will be able to agree. As head or even just a small participating caregiver you need to recognize that you may win some and you may lose some. This is truly the first step in having good, open communication.
Throw out your old expectations: As the oldest member of the family it is easy to fall into or assume the role of leader and decision maker, but if baby brother has a nursing degree perhaps he would be better at making Mom’s healthcare decisions. It is important to assign appropriate roles and duties, based on current strengths and not on birth order.
Share everything: One of the most important things is to share all of the information with everyone. Otherwise you can run the risk of people feeling left out. An easy way to accomplish this is to use e-mail so that the same written information is given to each family member at the same time. This also gives you a written record of what happened at Mom’s doctor appointments etc…
Check-in consistently: Consistent communication is key! If you only communicate during times of crisis it will result in miscommunication and discord during an already stressful time. Instead make it a habit to communicate on a regular basis and to revisit your loved one’s care plan every 3 months, setting a specific date and time to meet in advance.
Watch your promises and say when: It is very easy to over promise, especially when it comes to caregiving. Many a caregiver has promised “never to put Mom in a home” or that they “will visit every day.” The truth of the matter is that sometimes these promises cannot be kept. Perhaps Mom needs more medical care or that visiting daily is hard when you are working fulltime and raising four kids. We can’t know what will happen in the future for ourselves or our loved ones. Remember you are doing your best, but it is more important to be a caregiver who knows when to say when than to keep a promise that could jeopardize the health and well being of yourself or your love one.
By working together you strengthen the care that your loved one receives and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect, while maintaining the highest quality of life possible.