Family Conflict- Part Two: Some Ways To Move Forward

October 6, 2011; By: Audrey Miller
All About Estates:

My last week’s blog discussed the thorny subject of family feuding. It is emotionally, physically and financially costly to everyone, especially the older individual and family. In order to look ahead, I think we have to step back and see what things have to be in place, ie how do family members come together to agree on a plan of care? Key messages include:

Planning ahead: It is important to take responsibility. It is important to take responsibility for your own choices and not leave it to the children to determine. Advanced directives including DNR (do not resuscitate order), wishes, funeral arrangements, estate planning, wills and powers of attorney’s should be in place. Help remove stress in advance.

Communication: Let your wishes be known. Talk together, take the opportunity. Write it down and tell family where important papers are kept. The goal is to get family on the same page. Consider a family meeting. This should be monitored by a neutral third party. A geriatric care manager; family mediator; social worker; clergy or another skilled facilitator. Objectivity is important as likely the facilitators buttons will not be pushed the same way family can push your buttons!

Education: Obtain information- on the disease process and on options and local resources. Unreal expectations, ie mom will be fine- is not helpful. Understanding the anticipated health complications and the time and financial obligations, may help to avoid making promises that can’t be kept.
By conscientiously planning, conducting and following up on family meetings, participants can assure themselves that they are working in the best interest of their loved one and minimizing unhealthy family dynamics.

Lesson To Be Learned: Remember that you are all working in the best interests of your loved one who may have lost capacity to handle their own affairs. Be a positive participant and rise to the occasion.

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