We all have unique family dynamics. When one of our loved ones needs a caregiver, and multiple family members are involved in the process, these unique dynamics can make managing care day to day very challenging.
Assessing Your Care Situation
Every care situation is unique as well, and there is rarely a perfect care solution. Families are making decisions between imperfect options which always includes trade-offs: do they need 24 hour awake or live-in care; overnight, full daytime care or just a visit for the afternoons? Would a facility be better than home given the care needs? How hard do you push if your relative resists care but really needs it, – how many trips to the hospital after a fall before you insist they have home care?
In many cases, Power of Attorney for Property and Personal Care are with different family members which means one decides on care and another decides whether to pay for it or not – this can be challenging to manage.
Another, often more serious complication, is that one or more of the family members helping may have cognitive, emotional or physical difficulties as well, which can have significant impact on managing care needs.
Needing care also bring’s forward financial concerns, how to share responsibilities among family members, disagreements on what is best for the person needing care, and different perspectives on whether the caregivers are a good “fit”.
Reducing The Risk of Family Dynamics in Caregiving
As a hands on owner of a caregiving business, helping to manage family dynamics is critical to what we do, particularly when care is starting or when there are crises that must be dealt with. One of the key benefits of working with an owner operated firm is that the owner is fully involved in managing the care, as well as finding ways to work productively with all family members. There is no answering service, there is the owner and his key staff who can be reached 24/7.
There are a number of things you can, however, to reduce the risk that family dynamics complicate the care plan:
1. Talk with your care provider about the types of decisions that are typically needed throughout the caregiving process so the family can discuss them up front. Waiting until the next crisis means making decisions under pressure which few of us respond well to:
- Is the home they live in appropriate for the future if mobility or cognitive issues become serious? If not, what are their wishes and are they affordable.
- If care is needed 24/7, can family provide some of that care? Or, is the expectation to hire professional caregivers, and how will it be paid for?
- How will supplies, food and household needs be managed?
2. Discuss with your loved one what their wishes are for care, treatment, and related financial issues so that when the time comes, and they may not be able to share their wishes, you and your family only need to agree on what your loved one wanted, not what each other thinks is best.
3. Make clear who the POAs are and what process will be used to make decisions that affect care and finances if there are disagreements between family members. Make sure there is a Living Will and a decision on a Do Not Resuscitate order.
4. Given any physical, cognitive, emotional or time limitations that family members may have, agree upfront who is involved in what parts of the care process.
5. Develop a daily care journal to track how each day is going to learn about your loved one’s needs and to have an objective record of what actually goes on when family isn’t around. Clients receiving care often behave differently when they are alone or with a caregiver, than they do when they are with family.
Providing care for a loved one is a serious undertaking with very unique needs for each situation. Making sure you ask the right questions now and have a plan in place with your family can help ease the transition to care for your loved ones and help manage any challenging family dynamics.