The Caring Generation® Caregiving: When Families Don’t Get Along
The Caring Generation® – Episode 17 November 20, 2019 On this caregiving radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, talks about How to Manage When Families Don’t Get Along and how dysfunctional families create conflict and drama. Guest Spencer Crona, attorney from Brown and Crona, shares When Family Caregiving Conflict and Stress Leads to Court.
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How to Manage When Families Don’t Get Along Radio Show Transcript
00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories, and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
00:48 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk and laugh, we must be able to laugh, about aging, the challenges of caregiving, health, well-being, work, life, family balance, and everything in between. All the important things we should know about life. Podcast replays of The Caring Generation are available on your favorite sites: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spreaker, Stitcher, Castbox, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, and SoundCloud. Also on my website at PamelaDWilson.com, go to the media tab and then The Caring Generation Radio Show. You can download the show, listen to it in your car, at work, or wherever you are. Helpful information is also on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Today, we’re talking about caregiving and how to manage when families don’t get along. It’s the idea of dysfunctional families.
02:03 PW: In my experience, no family is perfect, and that includes my family. What does dysfunctional mean? It means families who have conflicts, sibling rivalries; maybe there was favoritism by parents for one child and not others. Maybe the relationships between parents and children were difficult. There could have been health issues, mental health issues that negatively affected everybody in the family. Maybe your parents were overly strict or overly liberal. Maybe they weren’t empathetic. Maybe they were over-controlling, maybe there was criticism, a lack of trust, poor communication. I know it seems like a long list, but all of us in our family lives have experienced some of these issues.
02:52 PW: But what’s more important is how we respond and how these issues affect our lives as children when we grow up, and then when we come back together to be a caregiver for an aging parent. The way that we grow up and all these past experiences don’t always predict our future. We have more control than we think. In the second segment of our show, we’ll be talking about what happens when families don’t get along, and these disagreements turn into court battles.
03:20 PW: Spencer Crona from the law firm of Brown & Crona joins us. His expertise is probate, estate, and trust litigation, including conservatorships and guardianships. He has over 30 years’ experience, and his law practice is in Denver, Colorado. Elder law probate and estate attorneys, these are the people that you want to use when creating your legal documents about health, money, medical and financial power of attorney. Spencer and I will talk about two family situations. One, where a daughter caring for an elderly parent prevented her brothers and sisters from visiting. The second situation is a situation of influence by a caregiver who was hired within the family, who worked herself into a will to inherit money and excluded the rest of the family. These are important situations to be aware of so that you can protect your elderly parents and avoid family situations. On the subject of information that can be helpful to you on legal topics, there are two Caring Generation shows that might be of interest.
04:21 PW: One is the show called, “What To Do When Work and Caregiving Collide.” On there is an interview with Daniel Collins, who answers the question, what is probate? And on the show called, “The Emotional Roller Coaster,” attorney Michael Hackard talks about financial abuse by family members and other people who weave their way into the lives of elderly parents and single older adults. All important things that we should know about caregiving situations so that we can avoid these in our own families. Let’s return to talking about what to do when families don’t get along, dysfunctional families.
04:57 PW: In The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, Chapter 6, it’s called Family Ties, I talk about family relationships. And this is actually a book that I’ve written. More information is on my website. You can go to the library tab and select “book.” In my family, there were six children. I was the baby and the one who became the trustee for the estate of my parents when they passed away more than 20 years ago. If you had a conversation with me and my brothers and sisters about what we all thought about my parents, you would receive six very different stories. Here’s why: There were 17 years between my oldest brother and me.
05:40 PW: Many of you probably have a similar situation in your family. If you think about how our parents might change over 17 years of the births of children, and then add another 18 to 20 years of raising children, the difference in that time period in those life circumstances, it can be very different. Meaning that every child that comes along, that’s born, has a different experience of mom and dad, because of where mom and dad are in their lives. These early relationships with our parents really form the relationships that we have growing up and later in life when we become a caregiver for an elderly parent.
06:22 PW: Let’s talk for a moment about how living in these not so good family situations–when families don’t get along–affect us as children because some of these effects can be long-lasting. We might be socially isolated as children, or we might be lonely because of low self-esteem if our parents are critical. They might be controlling or negative. Maybe they have substance abuse issues. We also might become extremely self-critical if we have parents who are perfectionists, who expect us to exceed normal behavior, like having to have straight As on a report card, or excelling as an athlete, maybe they want you to learn how to play a musical instrument or do some other type of activity.
07:08 PW: How many of you had this going on in your families? It’s okay to talk about it. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed. Having a family that doesn’t get along is really more common than we think. In these families, if we don’t communicate very well, and so, what happens is, as we grow up, it’s more difficult for us to experience our thoughts or our feelings and to communicate. Also, being in that type of family can make it difficult to be compassionate or empathetic of others. Especially if our parents didn’t show us compassion and empathy. We might avoid conflict and have difficulty listening to opinions that don’t match our own if our parents didn’t listen to us. We may not be a team player or understand the idea of working together for mutual benefits. Even with all of these challenges, it doesn’t mean that we can’t overcome these issues in our life. I believe that it’s really not up to us to blame family situations. We have the power to learn, to change, and to control our daily lives and our futures. More about what to do when families don’t get along in the second half of the show.
08:20 PW: Coming up after the break: What to do when someone in the family or somebody outside of the family is harming an elderly parent or a loved one? Spencer Crona of the law firm Brown & Crona joins us. We’re going to talk about family situations that actually lead to court, but they really don’t have to. You can check out Spencer’s website at www.brownandcrona.com, or his office is 303-339-3750. You can check out that for more information. Please share The Caring Generation and all of the past podcasts. They are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Share them with everybody you know, including the human resources department at your company, who may be interested in caregiver support programs for your co-workers and all of the employees. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio show coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
11:39 PW: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We are back to visit with Spencer Crona, attorney from Brown & Crona, his website is www.brownandcrona.com, and the phone number is 303-339-3750. Spencer, welcome.
12:04 Spencer Crona: Thank you, good evening.
12:06 PW: So, there are some situations where grown children living with parents actually prevent brothers and sisters from visiting, and it turns into a legal battle. What red flags might a family noticed early to stop this from going to court?
12:21 SC: Well, you notice extraordinary or excessive privacy in the residence, where the caregiving, so to speak, is taking place. Perhaps surveillance methods on other siblings, other close family that never existed before for their visits. Frequent expression of what mom or dad, the person being cared for wants without that person expressing it. The individual suspected of influence or isolating the person is saying what mom or dad wants. There’s a lot of monitoring and supervising of visits by other family members that didn’t exist before. Difficulty scheduling of prior family celebrations or family celebrations that previously were easy to schedule. Disruption of prior family routines around holidays. For example, we always took grandma to dinner on the day before Thanksgiving, and now suddenly, we can’t schedule that. It’s very difficult to schedule it, or she’s always occupied with something else. Those are warning indications.
14:00 PW: And then, I know these situations get complicated, and they go to court, and they cost people a lot of money. What complicates them so much that it gets so bad?
14:11 SC: For various reasons. Could be financial, an obsession with control, resentment from past issues, or disputes with other family members. A sense of entitlement, some kind of dysfunction, addiction or health problems. Family members can become, for those reasons, more invested in their own entitlement or their own notions of fairness or more invested in winning over the other family members than they are concerned about the best interests of the person. And you have to worry about that, obviously, when you see that happening.
14:58 PW: And these cases, they get horribly expensive. And I’m talking ten, twenty, hundreds of thousands of dollars. What’s the risk of not choosing the right attorney, and what type of attorney really for these cases is important to have?
15:11 SC: Well, that’s a threshold matter. Because of the complexity of these cases, it’s really necessary to select an attorney with experience as a specialization area in probate, conservatorship, guardianship, what we call Protective Proceedings for at-risk adults or cognitively compromised adults. So you need a specialist first of all, but you also need to look for an attorney whose focus and objective will be the best interests of the person as well, rather than a cowboy who’s really just in it to exacerbate litigation, increase fees, and go for the win rather than the best care and protection for the person. So, those would be the two factors, the two chief factors I’d recommend people should look for when they look for an attorney to assist them in a case like this.
16:25 PW: And this is a real case, so you mentioned that there was a guardian appointed in this case, how did that complicate it and kind of what happened?
16:35 SC: Well, the guardian appointed in this case of recent profound experience, which was terribly expensive and I think unnecessarily litigious, was more oriented toward making a personal judgment about who was right and who was wrong and basing decision-making on ideological considerations rather than the good science about what works best in interacting with and protecting the person under guardianship. And so, the guardian who initially was appointed really became an advocate in the case for one side of the case rather than an advocate for the person under guardianship or more than an advocate for the person under guardianship. Of course, the representation was, “I’m advocating for the person under guardianship,” but that turned out to be advocacy for the undue influencer.
17:53 SC: So, it’s problematic when a guardian is more oriented toward ideological views and subjective assessments of the other people involved than what scientifically and logically will best protect the interests of the person under guardianship. So you need a good professional guardian, frankly, in situations like that, or someone who at least will be aware of, learn about, and act under the logical scientific up-to-date information about how to serve as a guardian. And there are pamphlets from the Bar Association as well for guidance about how to serve as a guardian and educational programs through the courts as well.
18:43 PW: Yes, that would definitely be beneficial for families. We are going to head out to a break. We will continue our conversation with Spencer Crona of Brown & Crona. His website again is, www.brownandcrona.com. Please share The Caring Generation with family, friends, co-workers, and everyone that you know so that we can all become more informed to avoid surprises about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and our loved ones. If you miss The Caring Generation, the podcast replays and other helpful information are on my website, at PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio, we’ll be right back.
21:54 PW: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to visit with Spencer Crona attorney from Brown & Crona. His website is www.brownandcrona.com, and you can call him at 303-339-3750. So, Spencer, let’s talk about this bad caregiver case. There are…
22:23 SC: Yes.
22:23 PW: There’s a case where caregivers brought into the home feel entitled, write themselves into estate documents, talk about that one.
22:32 SC: Yes, this involved an 85-year-old widower, he had served in World War II in an artillery unit in the Philippines and had lost his hearing among a number of other health ailments. He had no children. His closest relatives were nieces from out of state, who loved him and visited him as often as they could, but they lived out of state. A private caregiver ended up assisting him in the home. This was someone who was found by a friend in the newspaper ads, and this private caregiver just, the term we use is, insinuated herself into this man’s life. The process began with visiting for care. Then more visiting to the point of really excessive visitation compared to what his needs were.
23:46 SC: Gradually, she became a live-in caregiver. Then became a beneficiary of a portion of his estate through a new estate plan, and finally became a beneficiary of all of his principal assets through another revised estate plan. And after this gentleman passed away, of course, a will contest ensued filed on behalf of the nieces who were the beneficiaries of the prior estate plan that had been prepared years before. That was the situation.
24:31 PW: So, what steps can the family, what steps can the family or these nieces, what should they have done to make sure that his estate documents just couldn’t have been changed by this caregiver? And I mean, it amazes me that she (the caregiver) just got documents and had him sign them.
24:46 SC: Yes. Unfortunately, I think this happens with a lot of people. These nieces became concerned about what was happening, what they saw happening in the home, but by the time they took action, this man had been unduly influenced and really developed an attitude of resistance and hostility toward the nieces that they’d never seen before. He was always extraordinarily affectionate and kind towards them. But as a result of the influence from this caregiver, he developed this hostility towards them, and they couldn’t see him by the time they took action. So, when you see these warning signs, if you’re an agent under power of attorney already, before that power of attorney has changed, there are protective activities you can perform. You can arrange for an in-home evaluation by a professional who evaluates what’s called placement, or the residential placement of the person to see if it’s appropriate. You can look into engaging an investigator.
26:21 SC: Once there’s an estate plan, a new estate plan when you learn about that you really have to look at either a conservatorship or an appointed conservator who has authority to examine the estate plan and perhaps petition the court for a rendition where there’s a problem with it. Where it appears to be the product of undue influence or an agent under power of attorney can contact county Adult Protective Services with the County Department of Human Services, explain the situation, what has been observed about the caregiver, the apparent influence involved, the isolation of the person from prior visits with the family members.
27:10 SC: And then APS often will commence its own investigation to determine whether undue influence is occurring. And undue influence, by the way, does constitute exploitation under the Reporting Act and other laws protecting at-risk adults from exploitation and criminal victimization. So if you’re a power of attorney agent, there’s a lot you can do. If you’re a family member without authority under a power of attorney, you can still report to APS. You can still ask for appointment of the conservator, still involve an investigator to try to find out what’s going on in the home. Still try for an evaluation for placement, although there might be a problem with the access or authorization for access to the home and to the person, but any of these areas of intervention are worth exploring once you see those warning signs.
28:32 PW: Well, and I think the best intervention is to contact an elder law probate or an estate planning attorney like you, so that you can help families with the situations. Because I think sometimes they just feel so intimidated that they can’t do anything. So I thank you so much for being on the show this evening. We are going to head out to another break. Coming up after this break, we are going to continue our conversation about what to do when families don’t get along, but they do have to come together to care for elderly parents. There’s that old saying that “we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family members.” Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. There you will find my caregiving library, hundreds of useful articles, my online courses, and the podcast replays.
29:22 PW: I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
31:52 PW: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host for The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Help, hope, and support for caregivers are available on my website, PamelaDWilson.com, in addition to all of the podcast replays of The Caring Generation shows for you to listen, download, share or read. When we left off, we were talking about the effects of what happens when families don’t get along in caregiving situations and how we, as the adult children can overcome this experience. We grow up, we leave the home of our parents, and you know what, at some point, we come back together because our parents need care. Let’s talk about a couple of relationship habits that we might learn in our childhood when our families don’t get along. Sometimes we learn these habits after we move out of the house, and we’re in the workplace.
32:20 PW: If you’re not familiar with the term triangulation, triangulation is what happens when one person, so let’s say your parent, talks to you about your brother or sister who is not there. An example of this would be your mother asking you what your dad thinks, or what your sister thinks about a subject–or your mom or dad’s talking negatively about one of your brothers and sisters. This type of communication also happens in the workplace, so it could be you having a conversation with somebody about a colleague who is not present. If you’re doing that, you are triangulating. This type of conversation is harmful because you might be giving out inaccurate information about what another person said, did, or what they think. In these situations, the facts matter and none of us want to be having someone else talking behind our back, which is what triangulation is.
33:43 PW: It’s so much easier just to say, “Let’s pick up the phone. Let’s ask John or Mary to join the conversation so that they can answer these questions. Mom, I’m not comfortable talking for my sister. If you want the answer to that question, let’s just call her.” That way, you don’t have to guess, and you don’t put yourself in that bad situation of saying something that’s going to cause even more problems. So another habit that happens in families that don’t always get along, and I laugh because my sister is kind of like this. It’s the rescuer, or it’s the enabler. It’s the person who wants everybody to get along, and wants everybody to be happy, and who goes out of his or her way to resolve problems. Sometimes this person will take on the responsibility for the emotions of another person.
34:30 PW: And that really results in boundary issues that we’ll talk about in a minute. We are responsible for our own actions and life, positive or negative, so are our parents. The sooner that we realize this and stop blaming other people, then we have more control. I’ve worked with families where an elderly parent always had somebody else to blame. It was the boss at the workplace. It was one of the kids. It was the checker at the grocery store. The problem rarely was started by the parent, it was always somebody else. If we grew up in a family where our parents blamed everybody and blame was common, we might have picked up this bad habit. Placing blame on other people is a boundary issue. So let’s talk about boundaries.
35:14 PW: Let’s say that an elderly parent refuses to use a walker because they think that walkers are for old people, and in this situation, it’s your parent who has experienced a lot of falls. Fortunately, they haven’t broken anything yet. The family doctor has ordered physical therapy and exercises to improve balance, to help your parent walk better, and to help them get stronger. Your parent starts, but then they say, “Oh this is too hard, I’m just not going to do these exercises.” They start to use the walker, but then they stop.
35:45 PW: You as a caregiver want to have a boundary discussion with your parent about the risks of falling and being able to stay at home because that’s what most parents want to do. So, the conversation you want to have is not being bossy or condescending, but something from love. The statistics about falls are shocking. 12% of elderly adults who live at home, fall, and break a hip, die within a year. Twenty percent of elderly adults who live in some type of community, let’s say assisted living, they fall and break a hip, die within a year. Thirty percent the larger statistic, it’s adults who live in a nursing home or people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. They fall and break a hip. They die within a year. These falls are serious. They are nothing to take for granted. So you would think with this great risk of physical harm and consequences, doing physical therapy might be a good thing.
36:40 PW: So you talk to your parents about this. You talk about the consequences of falling. They may ignore you. The conversation may fall on deaf ears, and you’re panicking. But this refusal is where you can be proactive and set a boundary. The conversation can go like this, “Mom or dad, I hear that you don’t want to do what the doctor’s recommending: Don’t want to do physical therapy, exercise, or use your walker. If you have a fall and break a hip, I don’t know that I can take care of you. The consequences might be that you have to move to assisted living or to a nursing home. I realize the choice is yours. You can do what you want, but have a backup plan for what might happen if you fall and if you have to leave because I can’t be that person who can take care of you.”
37:28 PW: While that may sound like a really strong conversation to have with an elderly parent, you want to be informed and realistic about the consequences and very kind about them because what you don’t want to have happen is that mom or dad falls and breaks a hip, they don’t recover enough. They can’t return home, and they blame you. This is where you don’t want to accept the blame. You want to remind mom or dad that you did have a conversation and that you were concerned about them making a plan, how they were going to be cared for, who was going to pay for it, how this whole situation was going to work out because you were so worried about them falling and not being able to stay in their home. This is the beginning of establishing an equal relationship with a parent who may have contributed to family issues all these years.
38:18 PW: It’s never too early, and it’s never too late to start setting boundaries for elderly parents or for yourself. Caregivers are typically very bad at setting boundaries for themselves and saying, “No,” It’s been my experience for so many years. So, if you have other boundary issues, if you have other questions with your parents about setting boundaries, there are other Caring Generation shows, all the podcast replays are on my website. It’s PamelaDWilson.com. You go to The Caring Generation, and you scroll down, and you’ll find the radio show there. You can also catch the podcast replays on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spreaker, Pandora, iHeartRadio, all your favorite sites. You are listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
41:30 PW: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM global network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation about what to do when families don’t get along, including your brothers and sisters that don’t get along and parents who complain. How many of us believe that one of our brothers or sisters were a mom or a dad’s favorites or that we got all the hand-me-down outfits, never anything new. Maybe we were jealous that one of our sisters got a hula hoop, and we didn’t. I know that you know what I’m talking about. What was it that you wanted from your parents that you didn’t receive that you still remember? And this happened to all of us.
42:16 PW: How many of you have a brother or a sister who has this memory of something that you forgot? For example, your sister may remember a time that you were mean to her, and she tells you this every time she sees you, and it’s been 40 years. She still tells you about how insensitive you were and how you treated her. And I laugh about this because this is my sister. You apologize, but honestly, you cannot even remember what happened. And in some situations–this is not my sister– but family members can hold on to these memories, and there may be more to that than meets the eye.
42:51 PW: So, there may have been other situations where our brothers or sisters were bullied in school. Maybe someone made them feel more self-conscious, maybe it was school mates, maybe it was even your parents. So, in these situations, when they get to be extreme, people can place themselves in the role of feeling helpless, and they’re easily swept into drama. Or you may have family members that create drama. They might repeat stories of terrible things that happened to them to gain attention. Your parents could do this. And so, by retelling those stories, it makes it worse and worse and worse, and they become more helpless, which makes the children feel more sympathetic or empathetic. When an elderly parent takes this “poor me” attitude and makes situations or issues larger than life, you might be responding to that parent who feels traumatized or like a victim.
43:46 PW: In these situations, the warning sign is your elderly parent or family member, they refuse to think differently or consider a different perspective. They just want to stay in that place of trauma and never make any changes, and they continue to complain. Caregivers can also fall into that trap of, “oh poor me.” So the question is, how do we help our elderly parents, other family members, and ourselves from feeling so hopeless? We stop saying things like, “Oh you make me feel bad. You’re doing this to me.” Instead, we say, “I feel bad when you say those things.” That shifts the conversation from blaming somebody else to our taking responsibility for our feelings. And I know so much easier said than done. Especially if we’re the one that feels helpless. We may think that if we say something, we’re going to hurt someone else’s feelings.
44:37 PW: We’re the only ones who can take those steps to change the situation, especially when all of this family conflict exists. We have the right, and we should be compassionate with ourselves to tell other people how we feel, and these types of conversations, they can shock family members. So for example, if you say, “Mom, when you say that you hurt my feelings,” your mom may be surprised and be speechless. But it’s these honest conversations that can help change us, as a caregiver, from feeling like we are totally out of control to feeling like we can set boundaries and really say how we feel. Imagine that! Caregivers can help an elderly parent in the same situation. So the first way that you do this is you have to protect yourself. Don’t get pulled into all the drama because your parent may be seeking attention, and that’s common. So how many times have you received a call about some disaster that really wasn’t a disaster?
45:35 PW: At some point, you say, “Mom, I hear you’re continuing to complain about this. What steps do you want to take to change it to make it better? Because every day you call me and you say the same thing?” By asking for your parents’ ideas, you might actually help them realize that they can change that situation. That they do have a choice to make, because, in many of these situations, mom or dad, they really don’t want your advice. If they did, they would ask. All they want to do is complain. And if you notice they’re not asking for your opinion or for suggestions. I’m going to point you back to my book, which is The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, Chapter 6, it’s called Family Ties. In there I talk about caregiving being a love-hate relationship.
46:24 PW: And caregivers will hear this, and sometimes they bristle, more because they’re hesitant to admit that they feel this way. It’s so easy to say that we hate a situation, meaning that we hate what being a caregiver is doing to our life. It’s okay to say that because caregiving can be frustrating. Sometimes we have to be available 24-7, there’s never any breaks. And people who aren’t caregivers, ah, they don’t understand. They try to shame us who are caregivers for being honest about how we feel. And so, what happens is caregivers become hesitant to share their feelings, they shut down. They feel guilty for having feelings about being a caregiver. That’s ridiculous. And then these poor new caregivers who are new to situations, they can just feel like they are sinking in quicksand, as I call it because their emotions are up and down. They don’t know what to do. They feel guilty. They don’t know how to talk to parents.
47:20 PW: And the opposite can happen too. Our elderly parents can revert to child-like behaviors, which is even more stressful for all caregivers, no matter how long you’ve been doing this. By developing a system of boundaries and talking about your feelings — like we’ve discussed throughout this whole program–you can change your family relationship from when families don’t get along to when families actually work together. On the next Caring Generation radio show, we will be talking about caregiver survival skills. This has been a subject that people have asked me about. On that show, my special guest will be the Waves Project who supports wounded veterans through the adventures and activity of scuba. Believe it or not, research shows that scuba has a positive effect on mental illness, stress, and PTSD.
48:13 PW: I also want to remind you to follow me on social media, on my Facebook page, you can watch my videos, look at my posts and register for a reminder for this radio show every Wednesday night on my event page. My Facebook page is PamelaDWilson.page. On Twitter, I am CaregivingSpeak. On Instagram, I am WilsonPamelaD, and on LinkedIn PamelaDWilsoncaregiving expert. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation. We’ll be right back.
51:20 PW: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM global network Channel 100 and TuneIn radio. Please share The Caring Generation with everyone you know. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is also on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. We’re back talking about how to create happy family caregiving situations. It is possible to improve and change situations that happened in our families long ago when we were children to make these family relationships and caring for elderly parents so much smoother today.
52:06 PW: Caring for elderly parents, does take a plan. It benefits from a plan because constantly responding to unexpected situations, it makes us worry and more stressful. No caregiver can survive for a long period of time in situations where families disagree, there’s conflict, elderly parents their health is failing. Caregivers need support from others, and making a plan can help that. So I want to return to talking about information in my book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes. There’s a quote in the book, it’s from Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland, that you may have heard, and it says, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you’re going.”
52:55 PW: This is the main reason that caregiving can be less stressful if you pick the right road. If you make a plan for where you are going, and if you know where you want to go. I call this creating a caregiving road map. With the road map, it’s much like a navigational map that you would use for your car. We want to think about how the caregiving situation has changed, what things might happen, and then how to talk to our family members, our parents, our brothers and sisters, about how we are going to care for our parents when they need more and more care because unfortunately, that is the likelihood of what’s going to happen.
53:39 PW: So, if your family hasn’t been good at communicating, you might struggle here until you find the right approach. Some of your family members may be in total denial. They may not want to even talk about this at all. You might hear things like, “That’s never going to happen,” or, “Mom and dad are fine. What are you talking about?” These responses result from shock and denial. And the reason is none of us want to admit that our parents are going to pass away and leave us behind. Family members might be fearful of talking about the consequences of health declines or health needs of a parent. These are very difficult and uncomfortable discussions. And if your parents took care of their parents, they might be fearful of what might happen to them.
54:31 PW: But not talking about the care needs, it won’t avoid the inevitable. So, while these conversations may not be pleasant or comfortable, there are benefits and comfort about discussing these things before they happen instead of reacting in a crisis after some disaster happens. It’s easier to talk logically and think rationally when you’re not in the middle of any type of a drama. So as the main caregiver, it’s up to you to start these conversations not once, but multiple times, to help everybody in the family talk about care for elderly parents. For all of you caregivers out there, including the professional caregivers, family caregivers, whether you are a doctor, a nurse, you work in a care community, nursing homes, medical offices, if nobody’s told you, “Thank you,” this week, I am saying thanks, and I’m telling you that you are appreciated.
55:28 PW: I’m Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults. Our next show is going to be all about managing caregiving crisis and having a caregiving emergency plan, caregiving survival tips. I look forward to being with you again next Wednesday. God bless you all, sleep well tonight, and have a fabulous day tomorrow. Until I talk to you next week, take care.
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Looking For More Help Managing Family Relationship? You’ll Find What You Are looking For on The Caring Generation Podcast Called “My Parent is So Stubborn.”