How to Avoid Family Blowups
Family Conflict: Page 2
The following steps can help you recognize and avoid some of these common land mines, so you can keep the focus where it belongs -- on your family member's care.
Hold Regular Family Meetings
As soon as the person begins to have health problems, initiate regular family meetings with your siblings and other family members who will be involved in her care. The goal is to share information and make decisions as a group; the meetings can also be a source of support and provide a forum for resolving disagreements.
If all or some of you live in different parts of the country, the meetings can be held by conference call. There are now many free conference call services available (you can search online with the term free conference calls). Set a regular time for the family meetings that's convenient for everyone involved -- it could be once a month, or whatever suits your family -- and if you can, do so before a crisis occurs, so this tool will be in place when you really need it. If possible, reserve a little time at the end of the meeting or conference call to chat and catch up.
Divide the Labor
Rather than insist that all of the care-giving tasks be divided equally, consider a division of labor that takes into account each family member's interests and skills, as well as their availability. Your sister may find it difficult to get away during the day to take your family member to his doctor's appointments, but perhaps she can handle his finances or take the lead in finding an appropriate long-term care situation. A far-flung sibling won't be able to help with day-to-day care but may be able to come for a visit every few months to give you a break. A fair division of labor can mitigate resentment and make caregiving more efficient. The family meeting is an excellent venue for setting up a caregiving schedule and dividing up tasks.