Feuding families are what I call dysfunctional families. They blame each other instead of locking arms in a crisis. What do Feuding families do at the end of life? They have dysfunctional communication. Often they do not communicate at all or engage in destructive communication. They see one another as enemies. They demonize one another
They sabotage resolution.
They actively compound already difficult decisions with intractable, interpersonal conflict. They create problems independent of the underlying issues.
What are some of the struggles that these aging dysfunctional families with fractured communication can face.
Aging parents who lack capacity to make decisions have no advance directives, DPOA and a health-care proxy and adult siblings, who must make end of life decisions, can’t agree
Withdrawal of life support with no designate health care agent and adult children and/or spouse disagree
Pain management adult children and/or and spouse disagree.
Mediation is a tool can be a good resource for dysfunctional families at the end of life. It can help with these difficult families face the death of a parent without fracturing the entire family.It can allow an older person die without pain inflicted by their own family.
I will be speaking about this tomorrow with mediator and elder law attorney Dana Curtis on April 19, 2013, at our presentation for the national conference of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers in Philadelphia.
Our topic is ,”The GCM as the Accidental Mediator: Fretting and Fighting or Feuding: Intergenerational Conflict in the Adult Family at End of Life”, Philadelphia, Penna. http://www.caremanager.org/ai1ec_event/29th-annual-napgcm-conference/?instance_id=546
Are you a mid-life sibling fraught over caregiving issues that have divided your midlife siblings?
Gail Sheehy in her book Passages in Caregiving, strongly suggests having a family meeting over caregiving issues and offers some guidelines for midlife siblings seeking this tool.
Sheehy proposes not involving the older family member or care receiver at the first meeting, because midlife sibling issues need to be solved first.
Serrated family concerns such as present middle-aged sibling struggles over parent care or brother and sisters life long battles need to be addressed immediately before moving forward with the family meeting.
Solutions like a path to sibling forgiveness need to be road mapped before caregiving problems can be solved. Other strategies like a forgiveness system might be tapped into as a goal before care giving could be shared by adult -child siblings.
The aging professional should have a thorough background in midlife sibling issues before she or he tackles a family meeting. Sparks can fly at a family meeting, because adult siblings gather as a team for the first time since childhood, facing a red hot aging parent problem
Organizing this first family caregiver/sibling team is a good reason to have a pre- family meeting about midlife sibling issues with a third party like a geriatric care manager or, if you are a dysfunctional family, a mediator . But the professional third party must know sibling dynamics, such as the parental caregiving patterns in midlife siblings, sibling aide and direct services and sibling rivalry extended into midlife.