Solutions to improve your family's emotional dynamics include:
Pay close attention to what family members say and how they say it.
Consider what family members are saying with their:
Occasionally describe what you hear them saying. For example: "It sounds like you're upset because you wanted to know sooner about that. Is that right?"
Ask to make sure you understand, rather than assume. This helps avoid confusion and shows that you're listening.
Take your family's "emotional temperature." Ask yourself:
When the "emotional temperature" feels right, ask family members how they feel about the older adult's situation.
You might start by briefly sharing your feelings. For example: "I feel relieved but also a little guilty about getting paid help. How do you feel about it?"
Focus on listening. Try to understand others' points of view. Don't jump to conclusions.
Be prepared for family members to share positive and negative emotions.
Assume that everyone means well. If a family member becomes upset, try to understand why.
Ask open-ended questions like: "What do you think caused you to have that reaction?" or "What might make that less stressful for you?"
Make clear that you hear and respect others' feelings. It's okay if you don't feel the same way.
Point out when family members have similar feelings. Knowing that family members all like this or are all worried about that can make decisions easier.
If negative emotions creep into family meetings, try clearing the air first. Ask each person to take a minute to name one thing that they appreciate and another that is bothering them.
Suggest relaxing activities, too, like family dinners or movie nights. Enjoying time together can reduce stress.
Ask family members to think about the different ways they and others help the older adult.
Point out that some ways are easy to see and understand, like going grocery shopping or cleaning the home. Other help might not be obvious, like giving advice or emotional support.
Ask family members to discuss:
Let family members know that you appreciate how they help the older adult.
Think about the struggles your family faces around helping the older adult.
Could part of the problem be that family members:
If certain things tend to lead to family conflicts, ask what role you're playing. You can change your own behavior. You can only encourage others to change.
Take advantage of new situations to suggest a different approach.
For example, ask family members about setting "ground rules" for discussions, like:
If your family is struggling with emotional dynamics, consider getting help. Talk to family members about having a "neutral" person guide family discussions.
Ask family members if they would be open to:
Before hiring professionals, ask about their credentials, licenses, experience with similar situations, and references from past clients. Ask about the services they offer, the costs and payment options.