A family discussion can be very helpful when your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia and needs care. 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 your loved one’s preferences and wishes.
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
• Roles of each family member in 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 you and your family members have fruitful discussions on caregiving concerns:
• Keep your loved one’s needs and wants at the centre of the discussion. To have a clearer picture of what their preferences and wishes are, you can consider doing Advance Care Planning (ACP) as early as possible. Read more about ACP.
• Set aside time for regular meetings and discussions regarding your loved one’s care 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 you can use to come to a family consensus – e.g. through majority voting, seeking doctor’s opinion, etc.
• Be open to discuss and possibly adapt your point of view to the priorities at hand.