Legal options for caregivers to reduce family conflicts
If you provide care and deal with family acrimony, you are not alone. Many of us go there. Skip the antacid.
I always have a sour stomach thinking about the family stress I felt when I was a caregiver. There were family members my mom absolutely didn’t want to see or have any control over her care for – but she hadn’t done all the planning needed to make that happen. It was very difficult for me to be her caregiver until she was able to get the right legal documents. I prayed every night that no one would go against their will and ask the court to be their guardian.
With the legal documents in place, I could breathe a little easier. But it was difficult to be his “guardian”. I would do anything to protect my mom, but it made me stand up to others and prevent them from asking her for money when she was out of work and terminally ill and introducing myself and upsetting her when she should have rested. It made family and friends angry with me, and I for one didn’t like having to deal with these relationships besides the intense medical and financial care. So yeah, I was angry too.
At the end of her life, the staff at the hospice were a blessing. They instituted a “10 minutes only” rule for visitors who have come to the establishment. I didn’t want to drive anyone away completely because I didn’t feel morally or ethically right to refuse visits and the opportunity to make peace with a dying person. But I also wanted to honor my mother’s wishes. The 10 minute rule was a gift and helped me, the caregiver, avoid an argument that I didn’t want to have and honestly didn’t have in me.
Conflicts in caregiving are common. In the first story of this two-part series, I discussed the conflicts of care recipients; this article looks at the conflicts encountered by caregivers.
Make sure documents are in place
My best advice, as a current lawyer and as a former caregiver of young adults in a separated family with bitterly divorced parents, is to always act transparently and to protect yourself and your care partner when you need it. The following steps can help end family discord – helping you focus on what’s important and helping others feel heard at the same time.