Family Support and Discussion
Taking care of a loved one does not mean you, as a caregiver, have to take full care responsibilities upon yourself. All family members can play a role in lending a helping hand in various forms, such as running errands or buying the groceries. It is important to open up and speak to them so they can support you and your loved one.
Family dynamics are patterns and interactions among family members, relatives, their roles and relationships. While each family is different and has unique set of dynamics, it can affect our thoughts, ways of behaving and interacting with one another.
A healthy family dynamics include factors such as support, love and care for other family members, providing a sense of security and belonging, having an open communication, making each person within the family feel important, valued and respected.
How to Get Family Support
Within the family, there are different roles and functions of each member due to individual choices and personalities. As a caregiver, you may want to create a familial support team; it can be between family members, or a mix with other relatives and friends. This can reduce caregiver stress and prevent burnout.
How to build a support team among family members
- Share appreciation
Show and express your care and love for them. A simple thank you for spending time with you or making you laugh. Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to build relationships.
- Spend Quality Time
Quality time is not about having quantity time. Give your family members full attention while spending time with them. Switch off your devices like mobile phone to have meaningful conversations with them.
- Healthy Communication
Having a two-way communication is important, and can take off to a stronger understanding of one another’s intentions and reasons for doing certain things. Open up and express your issues, challenges or triumphs for a discussion together.
- Share problem-solving skills
Learn from one another on how to handle issues on hand, and discuss options to manage them.
- Provide support to one another
Support one another when needs arises e.g. when one may be struggling during hard times e.g. very stressed at work or may be out of job temporarily. This may strengthen the family relationship to make your and your family closer.
How to hold a family meeting to reach a decision in caring for a loved one together
- Who Should Attend
Involve immediate family members or close relatives whom your loved one is comfortable with, and who are part of the caregiving team. It may be helpful to include help of an external facilitator such as a social worker, who can provide a neutral, objective and less-emotional opinion when needed and to help communicate difficult topics.
- Where and How to Begin
Do not let distance deter family conversations. It can be a physical or a virtual meeting where the people involved are comfortable at. Arrange a suitable date and time, and plan an agenda ahead of time. A simple agenda can be on latest medical report from the doctor, treatments options, medication intake for loved one, daily caregiving needs, financial concerns and list of tasks to be done. Allocate duration for each agenda items.
- During the Meeting
A successful meeting allows the people involved to be heard. This is where they are more open to voice out their true feelings e.g. the son may share that he is unable to endure seeing a loved one sick or the daughter who does not know how to accept help. It is important to explore solutions even when there may be disagreements or conflicts among family members. Remember to document discussion notes so that everyone are on the same page and reminded on what have been discussed.
- Foresee Potential Challenges
Every family has a history of how each family member behaves and reacts, or the role each person plays and feels towards the loved one who is ill. While family meetings can be effective for an open discussion, they may not solve all issues at once or reduce any old hard feelings. It takes two hands to clap. Strong conflicting concerns may require a need of a mediator, who helps both parties to reach their own agreement amicably while trying to improve communication between them. Remember that the focus is to be united as one caregiving team for your loved one.
- Having a Win-Win Situation
We need to respect each family member’s individuality and strength to create an environment where we can accept the situation or issue, and allow room for open discussion and problem-solving. An example may be that the daughter’s strength is in cooking, and she is able to prepare home-cooked meals for the loved one after work on weekdays and even weekends, while the son is self-employed and owns a car so he can make time to bring the father for medical appointments during the weekdays. Another factor is compromising – ‘give and take’. Be willing to be open to changes and alternatives when help is provided. If a black-and-white agreement works for you, pen it down as a reminder to all who attend the meeting.
- Caregiver.org: Learn more on how to hold a family meeting
- Community Mediation Centre: Learn about the benefits of mediation and its process in applying for one
- Singapore Mediation Centre: Find out about schemes which help family members resolve domestic disputes amicably
- Ministry of Social and Family Development: Learn about family policies and programmes
Here are more tips to better care for your loved one.
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