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Caregiving 101: Bringing the family together


In my years working with family caregivers I have seen every possible family scenario one can imagine.  Some families are able to rally together in a crisis, others find that a crisis brings up all the old hurts and perhaps even the worst in one another making it very challenging to come together to support their loved one.  While there may be no avoiding some of the family dynamics, if your family is facing the healthcare crisis of a loved one, there are some things you can do to establish guidelines that will help everyone focus on what really matters – helping your loved one through the crisis.

•    Involve your care recipient in the process whenever possible - ask what he or she wants and needs – don’t assume you know what’s best
•    Help in the best way you can—know your limits
•    Accept the limits of others
•    Be respectful of others, despite your differences of opinion
•    Understand that there is no right way to do this
•    Support one another
•    Be thankful others are helping
•    Set up a communication book, blog, or email (better yet – set up a Patients and Families account!)
•    As long as safety is not at risk, let others provide the care their own way
•    Keep your care recipient's best interest at heart
•    Try to put aside differences
•    Encourage family members of all ages to participate at their own level
•    Have family members choose the tasks they can help with.  (download a free checklist for ideas on tasks that may need to be done)

Check out the new beta website - Patients and Families.  This is a private family hub  where you can include all family members in the communication in a consolidated way.  This can be a great way to allow everyone who wants to be involved to do so at their own discretion.  

If your family continues to struggle with these guidelines in place, and you feel that mediation is warranted, find a mediator who specializes in family and even elder care mediation.  Having an understanding of the issues that come up in care situations will allow them to not only help mediate the family issues, but offer solution that the family may not have considered.  You may want to consider a family meeting, mediated by this outside, objective person.

The other thing I have seen over the years, is that a crisis can present opportunities to strengthen the family, offer healing opportunities and a renewed perspective on what is really important.