Today’s Senior Spotlight is such an important one – I cannot believe we have not covered it on our blog yet. (THAT is how much there is to talk about when it comes to creating our best quality of life as we age!) This topic is inspired by author Barry Jacobs, a clinical psychologist, family therapist, healthcare consultant, and co-author of the book ‘AARP Meditations for Caregivers’ – and I know it is one every one of us can relate to.
Have you ever cared for an aging loved one, and noticed their verbal interactions and mood differed among you and your siblings? Have you ever felt one care plan was necessary, only to find a family member was at odds with the arrangement? Have you ever asked mom or dad what they wanted, and then when you tried to make it happen, they complained to another relative about it? The bottom line is that not only is caregiving NOT easy – it really works BEST as a team sport.
I want to start off by pointing out that our aging loved ones are not trying to be difficult; in very, very few cases are any of these caregiver communication inconsistencies deliberate. Quite the opposite, our parents and grandparents are trying to manage who worries about what, who they may cause inconvenience, and who they can think can handle what. In addition, they are often dealing with life-altering decisions themselves, and may feel safer communicating with some family members about their concerns.
While there is no easy answer as to how caregivers can achieve clarity and consistency among each other and with their loved one, there are a few ways to try and keep everyone on the same page of each chapter.
1 | Consider impression management. As you listen to what your loved one is telling you, think about if any part of the truth may be edited for your relationship with him/her. Ask clarifying questions and reassure mom or dad that you want to genuinely help and can only do so if you can address all of their needs.
2 | Compare notes with other family members. The caveat here is NOT to do so to look for inconsistencies, but to truly understand the complexity of emotions and of interpersonal communications that are involved. Simply acknowledging if there are inconsistencies allows family members the opportunity to dive deeper into identifying what the needs may be as a whole.
3 | Comfort without confrontation. In very few cases does it ever make sense to gather as a group and point out the contradictory messages that family members may have heard. Instead, try comforting individual concerns with solutions that everyone helps implement.
I encourage you to read the article ‘Mixed Messages Complicate Caregiving’ HERE in full. I know that I gained an invaluable perspective and have every confidence that you will too!
All my best,
Bobbi Decker, SRES®, CIPS®
Broker Associate, Today Sotheby’s International Realty
Bobbi Decker & Associates
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