Your elderly mother was hospitalized recently, during which time she was diagnosed with a serious illness. Although mom’s back living at home again, while she was in the hospital negative feelings from the past resurfaced between you and your siblings. As the eldest sibling, you’re now concerned that those old childhood rivalries will keep mom from getting the ongoing care she deserves. What should you do? When it comes to an aging parent’s care, having a designated family spokesperson will help make the entire process go more smoothly.
A Family Crisis is an Emotional Time
In many families, when an elderly parent is going through a serious illness the resulting stress and anxiety cause old childhood rivalries to flare up again. Siblings take on various roles ranging from bossy and dominant, to conflict avoidance and peacemaking. During a family crisis it’s also not uncommon for adult children to exhibit these emotions:
- Anger and hostility
- Sadness and grief
- Jealousy and resentment
As ensuing disagreements about what’s best for mom erupt, those can start interfering with her ability to get the care she truly needs. Throw in the overstepping of boundaries when extended family members start showing up, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster unless someone steps in and takes charge.
Choosing a Designated Spokesperson
To help ensure that doesn’t happen, assume the role of family peacemaker by inviting all interested family members to participate in a meeting so that grievances can be aired, apologies made, and a designated spokesperson chosen. If you’re the eldest adult child and/or live closest to mom, don’t be surprised if you end up serving in that role. Once all family members are on the “same page”, you’ll then need to discuss a care plan for mom with the newly appointed spokesperson taking the lead.
Focusing on What’s Most Important
Healing old emotional wounds and choosing a family spokesperson will ultimately accomplish these goals:
- Help keep your aging parent safer, healthier and more independent, while also maintaining their dignity and quality of life.
- Presenting a united front to your parent so they won’t feel guilty because their poor health is dividing the family.
- Coming together as a productive team who all share the same caregiving responsibilities as each person’s talents and abilities are utilized.
Responsibilities of a Family Spokesperson
Once your family spokesperson has been appointed, these are some of the responsibilities that they will need to coordinate:
Based on each family member’s availability and skills, creating a caregiving team to assist mom with her activities of daily living. Use a spreadsheet to monitor and report progress to the team, and discuss caregiving options for mom when she’s reached the point she can no longer stay at home.
With mom’s permission, obtain access to her bank accounts to make sure that her monthly bills are getting paid on time, and her financial records kept safe.
Oversee mom’s medical care by joining her for doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions. Work directly with her insurance and healthcare providers, and give periodic status updates to your family members about mom’s health.
If you’re the spokesperson, ask mom to designate you as her durable power-of-attorney (POA) while including your family members in her decision. Also discuss as a family any advanced directives, wills, trusts and funeral plans mom may already have.
This may include bringing in a social worker, geriatric care manager or mediator to resolve family disputes. If there are caregiving gaps that need to be filled, the family may also need to consider hiring a professional in-home caregiver from a licensed home care agency.
In-Home Caregivers that Treat Seniors Just Like Family
If your family could use a hand caring for an aging in place loved one, call First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured agency, our compassionate caregivers treat seniors just like family so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our carefully screened and highly trained aides can perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, medication reminders, meals, food shopping, transportation and companionship.
And, all our family trusted in-home services can be individually combined into an affordable program that’ll put your mind at ease! To learn more about First In Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, now, please visit: www.firstincare.com.