In many cases, caregiving roles fall into place by more traditional expectations, rarely talked about, simply performed for no other reason than it’s the anticipated path.
Take Anne, for instance. Anne has two children, a boy, and a girl. And while she never voiced her opinion, she always assumed her daughter would take over the caregiving role when the time came.
But now that she needs help, her daughter lives in another state, an hour by plane just to visit. Her daughter works full-time and has a family of her own, with two teenagers busy with sports and activities. Her daughter tries to visit every couple of months. But their relationship is severely strained from disappointment and disapproval.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. It’s played out again and again throughout the world. Rarely are decisions made based on logistics or common sense. Caregiving is a highly emotional ride. There are no surefire solutions that will work every time, for every family.
Yet there are some ideas that can help you through.
Nurture open communication
Communication is always the key to any great relationship. It’s when we assume that gets us into trouble. Long before parents actually need care, it’s vital that all family member discuss the ways they envision caregiving will someday unfold. It’s important to discuss what expectations exist, and come to terms with how things can actually come into play.
In many cases, family members avoid the obvious. They escape talking about things that make them uncomfortable, choose to put off anything that dives too closely into inconvenient topics. But no matter how much you avoid it, the situation will only continue to get worse. This can also grow with more than one sibling involved, especially when they have different levels of expectations. Stop avoiding the problems and face them head on. No matter how uncomfortable they may be, it’s easier solving things one issue at a time.
Focus on the end goal
An adult child’s responsibility is to make sure her parents are well cared for. Her obligation isn’t to do everything the way her parents would like things to be done. While listening is important, ultimately what matters most is that care is provided. Compromises are always important in every relationship. And even if they put a strain, or hurt feelings, it’s important to stay true to your belief that you are doing what’s best for everyone, including you.
Remember, the caregiving plan has to be tailored to all family members’ needs. While key tasks must always be completed, there is more than one to reach the final outcome. Don’t be afraid to explore all of your options.