When 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 twenty four hours per day, and you can only spread yourself so thin. This could result in additional stress, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.
The secret to overcoming this challenge is communication. This means having conversations that could be uncomfortable but permit the opportunity to air grievances, share feelings, and ultimately reinforce the love you have for each other.
Kicking Off Courageous Conversations for Stronger Family Relationships
First, understand that a well-planned, formal meeting is not required for a discussion to be effective. It can be a quick chat while waiting for the coffee to brew. It should not, however, be a triggered response to a stress-inducing incident. Attempt to speak about a concern before the stress has a chance to build up to an explosive level (or when you’ve had the opportunity to calm down).
Here’s an example scenario and how to include a courageous conversation. Your teenage daughter is feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed having friends over because of the dementia-related behaviors of your elderly parent. Begin with this quick assessment to measure the answers for yourself and your daughter:
- What are each of us feeling and thinking?
- What do we need from one another?
- What do we have to give and receive?
- What goals do we want to accomplish from this conversation?
- What do we want each other to know?
Include in your assessment the feelings of the person in your care as well. In particular, before the cognitive decline, figure out what your mom would want for you personally and your daughter.
With this particular framework in mind, allow yourself to be honest, authentic, and vulnerable. Listen to each other’s viewpoint 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 the status quo than to risk upsetting a member of family by initiating a hard conversation. And undoubtedly, situations may arise which are best resolved through another means, for example, by speaking with a professional therapist to unravel your thoughts and feelings before approaching someone else with them. In most cases, however, nothing beats open, honest communication to allow you and those you care about to better understand one another and build stronger family relationships.
Let a CareWorks Health Services 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 call us at (949) 859-4700 for more information regarding our home care in Seal Beach, Mission Viejo, and Newport Beach, as well as the surrounding areas.