There is no perfect family. At some point in our lives, it's likely that there will be disagreements and strained relationships among family members. Throw in a major medical crisis and a loved one in need of caregiving and tensions are bound to rise to the surface. This can be especially harrowing for caregivers who must manage difficult family dynamics while tending to a loved one. But a bit of planning and preparation may help mitigate the strain and long-term repercussions on everyone involved.
Whether you are currently a caregiver for someone or still making plans about what would happen if you needed a caregiver, you may expect family discord at some point. You may already be picturing “the one” — the relative who would stir the pot, bring the drama, be abusive or make things flat-out miserable for others in the family in a time of crisis. You can see how your adult children — who have never gotten along — might use a family crisis as an opportunity to air their long-held grievances.
Or perhaps it is more subtle. One child might swoop in to “do it all,” while the rest take a backseat. The active child will feel overworked and unappreciated; the less active children will feel left out of the loop. Emotions fester and communication breaks down. While we wish that people would pull together when times are tough and try to see each other's perspectives, it doesn't always happen.
A legal, financial and holistic plan is security for the care recipient and their caregivers. And while it can't stop family acrimony entirely, it can halt harmful behavior, gamesmanship or legal entanglement, and ideally bring about a bit of understanding and compassion among relations. Sitcoms and movies can resolve family issues by the end credits, but a tidy resolution doesn't always come in real life. This article will talk about how to plan for family conflict from the perspective of the current or future care recipient. (In this article we address the same issue from the other side of the coin — that of a family caregiver.)
Make a plan
Imagine what life looks like if you need a lot of hands-on medical care or need to put someone else in charge of your finances. When you make a plan, envision what you can do to make the process as seamless as possible for your caregivers.