A family’s dynamics will be at play when and if a parent develops a need that requires caregiving. As a primary caregiver to her husband for 25 years, a team caregiver to her mother and sister, and a caregiver support group facilitator, Joy Walters has both experienced and heard from others about how family dynamics can impact communication and caregiving.
She says many families come into the caregiving role as the result of a crisis situation, such as an older parent falling and breaking a hip. The stress of that crisis has an impact on both how people give and receive communication. “The more critical the situation, the higher the stress; there may be things you think you communicate that you haven’t,” Joy says.
Family members often have certain roles; for example, the responsible eldest child or the baby whose siblings never allow her to make decisions. These roles can make communication more of a challenge, so it is important that everyone in the family be included in the communication chain, even if some of those family members don’t have the ability to be caregivers. Joy says that not every family member has a personality that responds well to a crisis or being a caregiver. Living out of town, having inflexible job schedules, having young children, or having their own medical or mental health challenges impact people’s ability to share in caregiving tasks.
By Carrie Vittitoe