*Requires Adobe Acrobat
Community Service Program
What comes to mind when you hear the word "family"? Is it pleasure, pain, comfort, frustration, pride, jealousy, loyalty or love. For most people, it is a mixture of all of these elements, and more.
No matter how these feeling and outcomes are mixed, a huge constant is the intensity of the relationships built on a lifetime of memories and tradition. For most people, family really matters.
As we age, the family relationships and responsibilities endure, but are often challenged by the situations of life. This forces them to evolve over time, or change in the blink of an eye. Commonly, this is the case when a family matriarch or patriarch becomes dependant due to frailty, illness or the loss of their spouse. The role of decision-maker can shift from an elder to an adult child or grandchild. Family members may become caregivers. Adjustments to the relationships must be made.
Maintaining relationships can be very hard work, especially if old habits foster (or recreate) old problems. Here are some suggestions for helping to build healthier relationships.
To build, support or even make changes in a relationship, family members need to understand the path their senior loved one is choosing to follow. These paths are put into six categories by Nancy K. Schlossberg, Ed.D., a psychology professor at the University of Maryland.