Family dynamics and caring for older people
Adapted from Chapter Four of ‘Carers and Caring; The one-stop guide; How to care for older relatives and friends – with tips on managing finances and accessing the right support’.
Within any family or friendship group, caring for an older person involves multiple negotiations with social and health services, but also with other family members and friends. Even if the carer has sole power of attorney or is the sole adult child, the person cared for must be consulted as much as possible and the views of others must be taken into consideration.
It is not possible to map out a path to decide the sharing of responsibilities of caring, but a community nurse is in a good position to help families understand some of the everyday challenges and make suggestions for avoiding any pitfalls. Informal carers are often astonished to learn how many common problems there are. When I talk to groups of carers, someone often comes back to me and says, ‘It is as if you know my family!’. Families are all very different, but in some ways, they are remarkably similar. The differences are less important. The understanding of what it means to be part of a family is the key issue.
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