Any time you dedicate a great deal of time and energy to caring for an older member of the family, it is natural for other relationships to take a back seat. After all, there are only 24 hours per day, and you can only spread yourself so thin. This could result in additional stress, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.
The key to overcoming this problem and strengthening family bonds is communication. It means having conversations that may be uncomfortable but that allow the opportunity to air grievances, share feelings, and ultimately reinforce the love you have for each other.
Kicking Off a Courageous Conversation
First, know that a well-planned, formal meeting isn’t required for a discussion to be effective. It can be a brief chat while waiting for the coffee to brew. It should not, however, be an immediate reaction to a stress-inducing incident. Plan to speak about an issue before the stress has a chance to build up to an explosive level (or after you’ve had the chance to settle down).
Here is an example scenario and how to include a courageous conversation. Your teenager is feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed having friends over because of the dementia-related behaviors of your elderly parent. Begin with this brief assessment to determine the answers for yourself and your daughter:
- What do we have to give and receive?
- What goals do we wish to accomplish from this conversation?
- What would we like each other to know?
- What are each of us feeling and thinking?
- What do we need from one another?
Include in your assessment the feelings of the individual in your care as well. In particular, prior to the cognitive decline, determine what your mom would want for you and your daughter.
With this framework in mind, allow yourself to be honest, vulnerable, and authentic. Listen to each other’s perspective respectfully, offer understanding and empathy, and collaborate to come up with a viable solution.
Is It Better Left Unsaid?
You might feel as though it is better to maintain status quo than to risk upsetting a family member by initiating a difficult conversation. And undoubtedly, situations may arise that are best resolved through another means, for example, by talking with a professional counselor to unravel your thoughts and feelings prior to approaching someone else with them. In most cases, however, nothing beats open, honest communication to strengthen family bonds.
Let a Serenity Home Care caregiver help you carve out time for the conversations you need with other family members by providing skilled, professional in-home care for the older adult you love. Contact us online or at 250.590.8098 for more information regarding our home care in Sidney, Saanich, Langford, and the surrounding areas.