My sister from out of state came home over the holidays and was surprised at the progression of our dad’s Alzheimer’s disease. I have been the sole caregiver of my dad for the past year, and now she is pressing me to make changes in the way I care for him. How can we get on the same page to resolve what is in the best interest for my dad?
Families come with a history, one which relates to the role each member of the family plays in the caregiving of their loved one. Usually in the family dynamics is the direct caregiver, the one who handles the finances, the decision maker, the information gatherer, the blamer or the one who is blamed for everything, the one who sabotages or just plain sibling rivalry. Essentially, all are looking for attention, power, love, control and appreciation.
Your sister may be feeling guilty because she is far away and not able to assist in the direct care of your father. Hence, her way of coping or helping is to offer changes in the way he is being cared for. Her intentions may be good; however, it causes you a great deal of angst and makes you second guess your own caregiving practices. In any case, this scenario can cause undue stress on all parties.
An open communication between you and your sister, along with any other siblings, can ease tensions and gather everyone to focus on the main goal — your father’s quality care.
Long-buried grudges, past hurts and misunderstandings should be set aside in order to coordinate an effective plan of action in the care of your dad. Talk with your sister and explain the routine you have developed in the past year in caring for your dad. Share your challenges and struggles with her and be open to listening to her concerns and ideas.
Perhaps your sister is feeling somewhat left out of the care of your dad because she lives so far away. Outline your needs. She may be able to assist you financially, in offering to pay for in-home care, medications, household needs, etc. You could include her more in the decisions you make in the care of your dad by communicating his needs or yours to her.
Keep in touch with your sister more by setting up SKYPE or other social media on a consistent basis.
If you cannot reach amicable solutions with your sister about the care of your dad, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a licensed clinical social worker, family counselor or mediator.
Compromise is a way to peace.
Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.