Posts Tagged ‘family stress’

Could Your Family Benefit From Family Therapy?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Conflicts can arise when a family member has Alzheimer’s. Carole Larkin, a geriatric care manager in the Dallas area, says that 30% of her family clients experience conflict. And she says that is doubled for blended families. Most conflict centers around what type of care should be provided to the person with Alzheimer’s. Other arguments typically involve money and facility placement.

According to an article on the Mayo Clinic website, family therapy is “a type of psychological counseling done to help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.”

The Mayo Clinic article states, “Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger or conflict.” Having a family member with Alzheimer’s usually causes all of those.

The article continues, “It can help you and your family members understand one another better and bring you closer together. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions.”

Conflict is to be expected even in the best of families, and this can increase if one member has a serious disease, such as Alzheimer’s, that requires extensive caregiving.

So how do you know if professional counseling could be needed for your family? I would suggest you consider it if at least one family member’s mental health and daily functioning are being seriously affected by the strife.

Another sign – and an important one – that outside help is needed would be if the constant bickering is negatively impacting the quality of care being provided to the person with Alzheimer’s.

What If Some Family Members Refuse to Participate? Don’t be surprised if some family members flat out refuse to take part. And don’t be surprised if it’s the one(s) considered by others to be the source of much of the conflict.

You might try having their primary care provider, clergy person, or lawyer speak to them about it. Sometimes people pay more attention to someone outside the family.

If they still refuse, the other family members can go ahead without them. The therapy may still be helpful to the ones who do go, and it may help them better cope with the one who won’t attend the sessions.

5 Tips for Dealing With Family Conflict

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Having a family member with Alzheimer’s disease is a stressful situation that can create conflict within families.

The Mayo clinic has the following advice for families where there is significant strife: 1) Share responsibility, 2) Meet face-to-face regularly, 3) Ask someone to mediate if needed, 4) Be honest and don’t criticize, 5) Join a support group, and/or seek family counseling.

In my case the closest family member, who lived out of town, insisted that Ed only needed to go to an assisted living facility. I knew that wouldn’t work because of his incontinence (of both bowel and bladder), because he couldn’t have found his way back and forth to dining room and, furthermore, he wouldn’t have even wanted to go to the dining room. Neither was he capable or showering and dressing himself or do his own laundry – and the list goes on and on. I was certain they would have asked him to leave after two or three days.

There was tremendous conflict between the two of us, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of the tips above and we didn’t follow any of them. The conflict didn’t disappear until Ed had passed away and there was no longer anything to argue about.

 

How To Deal With Family Strife Over Your Caregiving

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s can create tremendous stress in families. In families where there is generally good will, conflicts can typically be worked through for the common good. However, in families where people didn’t get along well before the diagnosis, it can create nightmares, especially for the primary caregiver.

The situation can become worse if some family members live out of town and only see the loved one for short, infrequent visits. They just don’t have the opportunity to witness the severity and frequency of demented behaviors you deal with every day.

You may find you’re being criticized unfairly for the care you’re providing even though you’re doing a heroic job and making major sacrifices in your personal life to do so. This can lead to bitterness and create extreme disharmony in the family.

Here are a few things you can try to reduce the friction:

1)      Be Patient and Understand Where They’re Coming from:  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they lack knowledge of the situation. If you can stay calm you’ll have a better chance of decreasing stressful interactions.

2)      Educate Others about the Patient’s Condition: Make very detailed lists of the patient’s dementia behaviors and share them with family members. Remember, they’ve never seen many of the things you see on a daily basis. Update these lists and share them frequently.

3)      Have Others Care for the Patient for Awhile:  The best way to let other family members understand the loved one’s condition is to have them take care of the patient for awhile. Afterwards you may find you’re being criticized less and appreciated more.

This is such a common problem probably many of you have experienced it to one degree or another. Care to share your experiences? Did you come up with strategies that worked well?

Go to this Mayo Clinic article (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/AZ00027) for more information on this topic.

Alzheimer’s and Family Strife: Tips for Dealing with Critical Relatives When You’re the Primary Caregiver

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can create a  tremendous amount of stress in families, although sometimes the diagnosis  brings family members closer as they work toward the common goal of caring for the patient.

In families where there is generally good will, conflicts  can typically be worked through for the common good. Advice given by the Mayo  Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/AZ00027)  includes strategies such as sharing responsibilities among family members,  meeting regularly to discuss care issues, being honest in discussions, not being critical of each other, and, if needed, joining a support group for  Alzheimer’s caregivers or even seeking family counseling.

However, in families where people didn’t get along well before the diagnosis, it can create nightmares, especially for the primary caregiver.  The situation can be even worse when the primary caregiver is not a direct family  member, such as, for example, when the patient has remarried and the caregiving spouse is not a blood relative of the children.

The situation can become worse still if some of the family members live out of town and only see the loved one for short, infrequent visits. They just don’t have the opportunity to witness the severity and frequency of demented behaviors you have to deal with every day.

You may find you’re being criticized unfairly for the care you’re providing even though you’re doing a heroic job and making major sacrifices in your personal life to do so. Although you may never convey the full extent of the patient’s impairment or the burden the caretaking is placing on you, there are some things you can do to try to reduce friction within the family:

1)  Educate  Others about the Patient’s Condition: It can help if you make very detailed lists of the patient’s dementia behaviors and share them with other family members. Remember, they’ve never seen the patient do many things you see on a daily or even hourly basis, so put down even the smallest details. Update these lists frequently and share them with everyone on a regular basis.  

2) Have Other Family Members Care for the Patient for Awhile: The best way to let other family members get a better understanding of the loved one’s condition is to have them take care of the patient for awhile. Ideally, this would be for a week or two while you go on vacation, not just for an afternoon while you’re at a movie or go shopping. Almost anyone can deal with a demented patient for a few hours. Let them take care of the person for a couple of weeks and you may find you’re being criticized less and appreciated more. 

3) Be Patient and Understand Where They’re Coming from: Most of all, however, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they lack knowledge of the situation. If you can stay calm you’ll have a better chance of decreasing stressful interactions.