I have written a number of articles about family caregivers and families that sacrifice to ensure mom or dad gets the care they need to safely age in place, at home. I have not written much about family dynamics, but a meeting today really moves me to do just that.
Some families are in synch, all lined up and coordinated as to what mom or dad needs and how to make it happen. Some families are an absolute joy to work with in the home care / senior care field. We have been lucky to met many such families at Support For Home In-Home Care.
Then, there are some families in which the various individuals have different agendas, perspectives and attitudes. We did an assessment for a woman with one leg, confined to a wheel chair, several years ago. The daughter and daughter-in-law knew how much help Mom needed. They were all for getting care in place. The woman’s son, however, for whatever reasons (and we had a pretty good idea what they were) said, “Mom is okay; she can take care of herself.” Care for Mom did not happen. This is not a son bashing exercise – I am one myself! 🙂 It is just one among many examples of some families’ inability to come together to coordinate care for a loved one.
The family our Director of Client Services and I met with today is one we have been serving for quite some time, providing ’round-the-clock care to the father. Unfortunately, this is a family that calls itself dysfunctional, probably correctly. One member lives with Dad and has very strong feelings about what is appropriate. Two others live at a distance, but are very much involved in decision making.
When history gets in the way of what Dad really needs, we all – I mean Support For Home and the family – have to say, “Look, history among the family members is totally irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what we are going to do now, for Dad, the person needing care.” Today, it took a little bit of time to get to that point, but by the time we concluded, we had a plan for (a) hearing aids, (b) changes to the bathroom to make bathing safer and more desirable, (c) connection to a great volunteer organization for installing ramps and other mobility enhancing devices and (d) tracking vital signs and other indicators that would enable us to catch changes of condition quickly.
This family – and others we work with – may never let the history totally go, but when a family sits down and works through Dad’s needs, like this one did, you feel nothing but respect and gratitude for them. Our philosophy has always been that senior care / home care is truly family care. Today was a rewarding example of that.
Best wishes, Bert