Although it’s nice to think that every family always gets along, caregivers included, sometimes life’s circumstances may force residents of Van Nuys and elsewhere to stay apart. However, sometimes tough times are able to bring families back together again.
While the team at Accredited Home Care doesn’t wish poor health or unexpected medical emergencies on anyone or their loved ones, we have also observed that these types of situations sometimes can create something positive and lead to family members or loved ones taking the effort to communicate and put aside problems from the past for the greater good of the family.
For instance, adult children who may be estranged to the point of living across the country from each other or not talking for years at a time may find that they are required to communicate and collaborate in the situation that a parent needs to be hospitalized for a serious or chronic medical conditions or may need to change their living situations.
Perhaps a client is able to receive home health care but otherwise can live independently. Perhaps they may need to stay at a rehabilitation facility for a temporary basis and then return home. Perhaps they need to stay at an assisted living facility on a longer-term basis, such as someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or a progressive health condition.
Providers will ask their patient their thoughts and opinions but sometimes he or she would also like to hear the input of close family members or caregivers, especially when it comes down to the parent’s future living arrangements.
So even though some brothers, sisters, cousins or other close relations may have their own reasons for not wanting to get together on a regular basis, sometimes circumstances change and they’ll have to put some of their past problems aside.
If this is the case with your family or you’re anticipating it happening in the future, try some of these strategies to figure out how to get people talking again.
- Don’t expect too much too fast. For families who have been “not talking” for years or decades, or even talking on special occasions, it might be difficult to suddenly begin talking together again and be forced to spend time together.
- Technology helps. If people aren’t able to or aren’t willing to come together in person, they can still talk via social media or video conferencing platforms like Skype. This might be easier logistically than trying to get everyone together in one room.
- Give patients time to discuss big decisions. Barring literal life-or-death emergencies when a critical decision for a family member must be made in a hurry, other situations can benefit from taking more time to discuss.
- Think short-term and long-term. While some discussions may consider someone’s health care needs in the distant future, often, the more important decision should be what to do in the next few months. For instance, a senior may do fine living independently for a few years. But in five years, they may require more advanced care.
- Seek neutral parties to help moderate. In some situations where some siblings get along and others don’t, the ones with better relationships with everyone may be called on to be peacemakers and bring everyone together. They can be present at ‘official’ family meetings to discuss the current situation and keep people on track rather than returning to older, comfortable corners where people don’t walk to talk to each other.
- Put the past on hold. Whether you call it a temporary cease-fire or a break from past resentments, they are here to focus on a family member rather than their own continuing feuds. They can always return to this later once the current health crisis is resolved.
- Put one person in charge. Avoid some of these situations where people feel they need to come together to help, partially unwillingly and try to figure out who will tell them what to do. For a family member you trust, give them power of attorney and the ability to make decisions on their behalf if they aren’t able to. This person can take a role in meeting with various family members as well. They also can answer the questions that come up such as “what choice would mom make?” or “what do you think dad would think?” Discussing some of these areas prior to major health emergencies can provide answers to some theoretical questions and reduce the opportunity for incorrect guesses.
- Look for positives. Can you use the time together to discuss genetic health?
- Ask for favors. Continue to reinforce that getting together is welcomed and appreciated, especially for people who may not have talked to each other much in the past. Use the opportunity to remind them that they don’t have to automatically return to past pain but can put some of their grievances aside and make a goal to get along better in the future.
It shouldn’t take a health emergency or a health scare to get family members to come together. But in some families, this may happen. So be ready for opportunities to facilitate communication and get everyone to put aside some of their differences or past pains.