Solutions to understand family roles and expectations include:
Which person or people do you think will help the older adult with:
Are these expectations based on:
Ask the older adult and other family members who they expect to help with different tasks.
If family members have different expectations, talk about it. Could some tasks be shared?
Could other tasks be handled by neighbors, friends, community programs or paid help?
Encourage family members to be honest about what they can do. Everyone will benefit if no one burns out.
If something changes, ask family members to review these plans.
Think about the roles that different members of your family play. Does your family have a:
Work with your family members' roles, when possible. People take on roles that match their personality and skills.
For example, the family "boss" could organize car rides for an older adult who's stopped driving. The "networker" could find a good time and place for a family meeting.
Let family members know that you appreciate their "role strengths."
Each role has weaknesses, too. If family roles are causing problems, ask whether a different approach might turn weaknesses into strengths.
For example, if an older adult sees the family "thinker" as the person with the best advice, others might not feel listened to.
The "thinker" could respond by asking others for their opinions during family discussions. Or, if the older adult isn't listening to important information, the "thinker" could bring it up.
Keep in mind that no one is just a role. Don't assume that a family member can only take on the tasks that match their role.
Use new situations to suggest small changes to difficult family patterns.
Think about what tends to cause conflict in your family. Expect any change to be slow and small, especially if it's been a pattern for a long time.
Consider small changes that help family members work together, like:
Keep in mind that you can change your own behavior. You can only encourage others to change.
Changes are more likely to "stick" if family members: