Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Trouble With Families

Family dynamics are, shall we say, interesting. They seem to become even more interesting when Mom or Dad goes to a nursing home for rehab after a surgery or illness. Everyone wants what is best for Mom or Dad. The trouble starts when the spouse, children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends and so on all feel like they have to be in on the action of every aspect of Mom or Dad's care plan. It usually looks something like this: either the spouse or the child who has most of the caregiving responsibilities (we'll call him Bob) is in contact with the nursing staff, social worker/discharge planner, physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician, etc. Then daughter Polly shows up and has to speak to all the same staff members, getting the same information that Bob got. Later on daughter-in-law Millicent calls so that brother Morris can stay informed and she speaks to all the same staff members, getting the same information that Bob and Polly got. Except that Millicent thinks that Dad needs more or less medication, different therapies and that Mom isn't capable of making good decisions any longer regarding Dad's care. Keep in mind, now that both Mom and Dad are still quite alert and oriented and have the right to make their own decisions be they good or bad.

Anyhow, you get the picture. Most of the folks above are lovely people who mean well and only want the best for their loved one. What they don't realize is that by not agreeing to have one family member act as spokesperson and liason between the staff and the rest of the family they are actually sucking up valuable time that is needed to provide actual care and therapy for not only their loved one but for everyone else in the facility as well. I'm thinking that this ought to be a requirement on admission - choose one person to be the communicator and let the rest of the family argue amongst themselves if they have differences of opinion. Most folks have chosen the person(s) they want to handle their business affairs and make their medical decisions if necessary. I think they ought to add family communicator to the list as well. Then they can tell Bob, Polly, Millicent, Morris and all the rest what's going on with Mom or Dad and the staff can provide the care that will help Mom or Dad get back on their feet. I'm just sayin'.

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