I am dealing with controlling relatives that have not been there to help provide any type of assistance in the past 10 years, now at the end of life, they show concern. It upsets and offends me.
I have been the sole caregiver for my father for the past 10 years. My siblings and other family members have not come to visit, bring a meal, or call to show any interest or concern. When I needed help with care, needed a break, needed respite, no one would help. I feel angry and resentful that they, now have a need to hover.
Now, they are questioning the decisions I am making. My father and I have had conversations about what he wanted and I have tried very hard to honor his wishes. Now, everyone hears “hospice” and they are acting as if I am allowing my father to die.
Please, tell me, how do I handle this situation, without causing drama, fighting and arguments?
First, I want to say I am so sorry that you are having this experience at a time, when you need to deal with your own feelings of loss and grief. Sad to say, but, your experience is not uncommon. Families always seem to rally after an initial illness, accident or trauma. In a few weeks, that interest evaporates. Caregivers go months, and even years without family support.
Uninvolved siblings and family members have a different agenda. They may feel guilt, or they may be like vultures, waiting to get what they feel that are entitled to when the person passes.
The first thing I always address is the legal aspects of your caregiving. It is important that you know your rights. Do you have POA of medical and financial? Do you have a family caregiver contract in place? Are you the executor or executrix of the will?
I ask these questions, because so many caregivers have many challenges to over come when dealing with uninvolved family members. It is important that you know how to protect yourself and know your rights. I suggest that you talk to an attorney to make sure you do not find your self homeless or dealign with law suits.
As hard as it is to say, I also suggest, to my clients, that they lock up the good stuff, the good jewelry etc. Years of working in this business has, sadly, made me skeptical of the uninvolved family members. People take things when you are the most vulnerable.
Now that all the negative things are out of the way, it is really important to honor your fathers wishes. If he is capable of telling you if he wants the other family members involved, then he needs to be asked. If he is not able to express his wishes, as hard as it is, you should show empathy for the uninvolved family members.
You should be able to set boundaries and express your limits. If they want to help, allow them. As hard as it is to accept, there should be some sort of comprise that will make everyone happy.
If family members want to help provide care, then set up times and tasks for them to do. If you want visiting hours to be limited, even at home, then, set up a visiting schedule and post it where everyone can see. When people call, make them aware of the schedule.
Explain to everyone that it is a time of peace and reflection, and you want the house quiet and calm. You have a right not to have your life disrupted.
If you have hospice in the home, the staff will be more than willing to help you deal with the uncomfortable family dynamics.
The bottom line is, this is a difficult time for all. It is not about you, and as hard as it is, try to not take things personally.