When Caregivers Don't Agree
In the beginning
At first, a difference of opinion might be which day of the week to book doctor appointments. Maybe one can only be available on Tuesdays, while the other can only be available consistently on Fridays. Now imagine that a routine doctor visit results in a series of appointments that were all booked on Wednesdays and Fridays because of the limitations of the office. Now one caregiver is available and stays in the loop, and the other will need to take sick time from work, no matter which appointment that they attend. This causes extra stress and results in getting most of the information second-hand.
As you advance into the later stages, a difference of opinion could affect the quality of end of life. Emotions can get high as major decisions need to be made, but it is important to remember that the one that needs to be considered most is your loved one. Watching the caregivers fighting adds stress to an already stressful situation. I know that if my mom sensed that my father and I were arguing about anything, it really affected her. She would begin to worry about us rather than concentrate on getting better.
An example of the right time to fight would be in a situation of actual life and death. This could be a time that your loved one cannot speak for herself/himself. Maybe you know more details and have a better sense of the fears that your loved one has concerning the end of life. If at that point, the wishes of your loved one are being ignored, that is the right time to stand up and voice your opinion.
Pick your battles
It's more important for you (the caregiver) to be the peacemaker than to be right in a trivial argument. This does not mean that your opinion does not count, nor does it mean that you should always concede. What it means is that you must learn to pick your battles and only passionately fight for what you know your loved one wants or needs.
Imagine with me for a moment that your loved one is sitting in a room down the hall, and you are arguing with the other caregiver about vitamins or a setting on the dishwasher (insert your own trivial argument). During all of this, your loved one is crying because of the ugly words that are being spoken. You may never even know the full impact that these arguments have on your loved one, especially the ones that you think were not heard.
Questions to ponder
Sometimes it's hard to stay silent. Sometimes everything inside of you just screams that something isn't right. That's where you must learn to discern the right battle to fight. Ask yourself just a couple of questions to determine the importance of the situation:
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you probably should voice your opinion, but here is the thing: You need to express your opinion with respect. You cannot forget this. A posture of respect and sensitivity will keep hurtful words away and give the best environment for dialogue and good decisions.
Which of the following best describes your COPD diagnosis?