The daily challenges of caregivers can involve much more than appropriately addressing a senior’s health needs. Familial conflict interferes with caregiving, and can make even the most well-meaning caregiver feel resentful and overworked. It is very difficult for family members to resolve these types of conflict by themselves. In-fighting and the need for one party to declare “victory” over another may lead to solutions that are not in the best interests of the senior who needs care.
This is often the best time to seek professional advice for the family. A family meeting can facilitate the airing of conflict that will help to form new consensus and create new understanding. Professional caregivers can help family members address the challenges of caring for loved ones.
To schedule a meeting, common obstacles can be overcome. For example, Skype and other similar programs can help to loop in family members who live in various parts of the country. Families may not want to pay a professional caregiver for meeting time, but it will be worth every penny. Bringing together a senior’s support network for a constructive discussion and examination of the current situation is the best way to make most informed decisions that benefit the senior.
When a meeting is scheduled, create an agenda so that specific items can be discussed and emotions won’t sidetrack the meeting. This is a good time for family members to air thoughts and feelings, but they should be mediated by a professional.
Most important is the concerns of the senior.
- An older person may not want to leave his or her home.
- S/he may not want to change habits, even if it means better health.
- Seniors may resist professional in-home companions or caregivers.
- Some seniors do not want certain medical procedures or treatments, such as chemotherapy, opting for quality of life over longevity. These opinions must be respected and family caregivers may need support to accept them.
A professional caregiver can help the family and the senior discuss these highly emotional issues in a way that increases understanding. Notes should be taken, and distributed to all concerned, including family members who may not be in attendance.
Professional caregivers can assure family members that this area of life contains no black and white decisions. Rarely are there absolutes, and often “right and wrong” becomes “probably and not usually.” The only absolute is what is right for the senior and serves the best interests of their mental, physical and emotional needs.
One of the greatest benefits of a family meeting is hearing everyone’s opinions. Above all, make sure that the decisions made are honored and implemented. It is important to understand that the outcome of any family meeting is going to be a work in progress, with the ability to change as the senior’s needs change.