A family discussion on sharing caregiving responsibilities can be very helpful when someone in the family has been diagnosed with dementia. Some families may think it is taboo to discuss concerns revolving around dementia, but it is important for family members to be clear that the family discussion is about honouring the preferences and wishes of the person living with dementia.
Different family members will cope with the diagnosis differently and communicate their thoughts and emotions in their own ways. Sometimes, this might lead to unintentional friction within the family. Some disagreements that may arise from caregiving may be about:
• The type of care given
• Financial responsibilities
• Role of each family member in sharing caregiving responsibilities
• Struggles with managing work, personal responsibilities and caring for loved one
• Emotions that come with the caregiving journey
• Underlying family or relational concerns
It is important that these issues are identified and managed efficiently. Preparing for them can reduce the stresses and strains from caregiving, and in the process, enhance and strengthen family relationships and dynamics.
Set some ground rules to help family members have fruitful discussions on caregiving concerns:
• Keep the needs and wants of the person living with dementia at the centre of the discussion. To have a clearer picture of what their preferences and wishes are, families can consider doing Advance Care Planning (ACP) as early as possible. Read more about ACP.
• Set aside time for regular meetings and discussions regarding the care for the person living with dementia and the various caregiving responsibilities. Care needs can and will change with time.
• Have a roundtable discussion so that everyone will have a turn to speak and raise their concerns.
• Respect each other’s views and needs. Try to see things from all perspectives. Everyone has personal responsibilities that they need to consider – e.g. children, work, spouse, finances, etc.
• Focus on one issue at a time before moving onto the next.
• Consider which method the family can use to come to a consensus – e.g. through majority voting, seeking doctor’s opinion, etc.
• Encourage families to be open to discussion and possibly adapt their points of view to the priorities at hand.