Caregivers have to make decisions daily regarding the lives of their care recipients. Some of these decisions create ethical dilemmas where one is trying to choose between two or more imperfect solutions and each option has both benefits and challenges.
There are many factors we consider in making these decisions, including the person’s own wishes, safety, financial and other resources, impact on other family members, etc. My consultations with caregivers often center on finding the right balance between safety and self-determination. For example, the doctor recommends a senior living residence to protect against wandering, tripping, climbing stairs, cooking injuries and medication errors. However, the person strongly desires to stay in their own home, among familiar things and routines, and resources are limited. Each family needs to explore the benefits and costs of the options and decide how much risk they can tolerate, and how much weight to give to each factor.
It may be helpful to understand that these decisions involve more than a test of wills between generations or people within the family. They are ethical dilemmas that encompass a complex web of layers including our personal, family and cultural values, morals, religious faith, laws, experience and knowledge, goals and expectations. For example, conflicts arise in families where the parents are first generation immigrants from a culture where parents are traditionally cared for in the family home, and the children have assumed the more American values of independence and consumerism that require two incomes. Another example is a couple who find that they have very different understandings of their commitment to care for each other “in sickness and in health,” based on their family experiences and values.
When we think of all the factors that influence our decisions, it is easy to see why these issues are so challenging and complex. Reaching across the cultures and generations can help us understand each other and find solutions that will meet the needs of everyone involved. It can often help to seek assistance from a PSRC counselor, care coordinator, geriatric case manager, pastor or other trusted counselor who can help you explore whether all possible options and costs/benefits have been identified. Often it is the third or fourth option that becomes the chosen solution.
In October, PSRC will host a Saturday conference entitled “Caregiving With Confidence.” We will offer 8 workshops and an exhibit hall where providers of a wide array of local services can speak with you about core caregiving issues and resources. You will have opportunities to meet other caregivers and to identify new options so that you can find solutions for your particular situation. The conference is intended for adult children, spouses, extended family, friends, neighbors and others who provide a range of care to older adults, from visits and rides to the doctor to full time personal care. We hope you will join us.
Susan W. Hoskins, LCSW
June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
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Retire in 3D!
Am I Old?
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Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind
A Personal Perspective on Caregiving
Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity
Write your own obituary
Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look!
Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008
Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning
Finding Rhythm and Purpose
Spring Cleaning II June 2008
V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008
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Have You Had the Talk Yet?
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