Once you have seen the drama in the aging dysfunctional family and know each adult child’s role plus the conflict it causes– then what do you do next ? You become Wonder Woman ( or man? )
You use your extensive aging life- geriatric care manager tool box to realign the roles to get care for the aging client. Here’s three steps:
Superhero task 1
The Aging Life or geriatric care manager must identify existing power dynamics within the family, redefine responsibilities to achieve generational maturity, and realign roles and tasks for each family member.
Superheroine task 2
The Aging Life or GCM should encourage a new two-way nurturing relationship between the adult child and the parent that may not have previously existed.
Superhero/heroine task 3
At the same time, the Aging Life or GCM must enable the adult child as caregiver to set limits that are appropriate to a mature relationship.
The GCM emboldens the adult child to identify and remove himself or herself from triangulated, fused, or other destructive family patterns.
This is not for the faint of heart . It is for a highly skilled and educated care manager and successful practioneer- in others words Wonder Woman.
During the holiday season, dysfunctional families with gather and one of the adult siblings call may as a care manager . The Martyr below will object, the escapee may ignore the problem as they already fled from the family.If they hire you the meddler will try to sabotage your care plan. Check out these dysfunctional family roles before the call.
The Martyr has an innate need to nurture the older adult, even when this comes at the expense of the Martyr or the older adult. The Martyr’s seemingly endless devotion can sometimes interfere with an appropriate care plan. Most commonly, he or she will insist on carrying out the older adult’s wish to remain at home beyond the point that is safe or appropriate. Despite complaints of exhaustion, the Martyr will avoid opportunities for respite. He or she may be motivated by guilt or other unresolved issues underlying the relationship.
The Escapee is typically an adult child who lives far away and has withdrawn or is entirely absent during a family crisis. Involved family members will resent the Escapee, particularly when there is a history of family conflict. The Escapee may withdraw from family problems in self-defense and resist being drawn back into a stressful relationship with siblings.
The Meddler will interfere with an established care plan in an attempt to wrest control away from other family members, to compete with siblings, or to assert dominance within the family. The Meddler needs to be involved in every decision made and is overly involved with details. The Meddler will have frequent contact with the care manager to change or challenge recommendations.
The older adult, of course, is the central figure in the drama of the so-called difficult family. The care manager must assess the older adult’s own role . That’s why the care manager must take a ” Whole Family ” approach with these hard to manage clans.
During the holiday season the aging family under the most stress are dysfunctional families. There never was a ritual they did not ruin. If they must face care of an aging parent at the same time they may explode and call a care manager for help.
So when they phone in the throes of an older adult crisis, the care manager needs to recognize familiar roles and characteristics that individual family members play.
The “preserver” will resist your help, the “victim” is none too happy as well and the “manager” just may be very delighted, as someone else will deal with the aging parental mess. What are these roles?
The preserver is more comfortable with the status quo and resists getting help for the older adult. He or she is content if the older adult remains overly dependent on the family without access to appropriate external help or services.
The victim perceives the older adult’s problems as a direct threat to his or her own needs or self-interest. The victim will see his or her own emotional needs as more important than the older adult’s needs. He or she will frequently contact the older adult or the care manager, but the purpose of the contact will involve seeking attention for his or her own problems.
The manager tends to be calm, organized, and analytical during a crisis but is unable to provide emotional support to the older adult or to other family members. Often, the Manager lives at a distance, which can cause tension with family members who are more directly involved in daily care.
More Ruinous Roles tomorrow.