Tag Archives: Caregiving

Two articles from Psychology Today

Why Do Some Siblings From Troubled Families Turn Out Fine, While Others Flounder?

This article looks at dysfunctional families and touches upon how one person can get saddled with caregiving.

‘To illustrate, say that one sibling is the “Chosen One” who has agreed to fulfill a dysfunctional role: He’s the one who never gets married so that he remains free to never leave home – in order to keep an eye on an ailing mother after a father runs off. Let us further suppose that the Chosen One suddenly says to Mom, “I can’t do this any more.  I’m moving out so I can have a life of my own.  You need to find someone your own age to take care of you!” and actually moves out (Mind you, this is something most people playing such a role are highly unlikely to ever do).

‘If he follows through, he will usually first suffer universal condemnation from every relative he has.’

Read more about this here.

The Twelve Red Flags of Dysfunctional Helping and Giving

Sometimes our helpful intentions give way to dysfunctional helping and giving. The solution isn’t to stop helping altogether; it’s to set helping boundaries once telltale signs of unhealthy helping appear. I call these signs the “Twelve Red Flags of Dysfunctional Helping and Giving.”

Read more about this here.



Tagged , , ,




  1. People who do not do the caregiving may have opinions but the ones who do the caregiving have the votes.
  2. There is no strategy for family caregivers of the bi-polar. Only tactics. The job of a caregiver is to be like the captain of a ship travelling the ocean with a hole beneath the waterline. Your job is to get the ship pointed in the right direction.
  3. Families reduce to one caregiver for the bi-polar relation.
  4. Virtually every article you will read about being a caregiver for a bi-polar parent will be useless if it addresses symptomatic emotions rather than causes.
  5. Social workers will not help the caregiver until the caregiver is also a mental patient.
  6. The best a bi-polar caregiver can do us install processes to reduce the severity of damage caused.
  7. The bi-polar parent can end up respecting family caregivers in inverse ratios to the amount of contact had with those people.
  8. Therapy doesn’t CURE anyone, it really just gives an individual a forum for feedback where possibly awareness and insight on how to change thinking and behaviours may result. (I realize that this is a sweeping statement but this is a blog for caregivers to family members with disabling mental illness.)
  9. Calling people on their lies accomplishes nothing. So, if a bossy relation makes demands, and you’re in private, say nothing. The person is in a point scoring game about family politics where only they know the rules.
  10. To paraphrase Batman, you don’t have to save anyone.


Tagged , , ,

Video: Caregivers and Bossy Siblings

The sibling, or other family relation who swans in with no end of helpful advice for the caregiver is the subject of this video.  My own family dynamic is not so complicated but for those of you with more centrifugal forces inside your family, this recording may provide a platform for discussion.

I’ve mentioned this video before in another entry, but it might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Here’s that video again.

Tagged , ,

The Friday File — Advice for Newcomers to Bi-Polar Caregiving

The caregivers of bi-polar parents that I know, and with whom I correspond, are generally helpful people. You wouldn’t know it from this blog but I do try to be helpful, considerate and enthusiastic and generous. Like any other feature of  your personality, it can be made to work against you.

This is a critical tip for newcomers which is why I am making it a stand-alone item despite being very short. I don’t want this to get lost in one of my lengthier articles.

Let us say that your bi-polar parent has been in the hospital for some reason, either for an episode, or because of a medical procedure. If the hospital calls on Friday afternoon, and says your bi-polar parent is ready to be released but you need to stay with her or him for the next 48-72 hours. Well, you have your own family, your own life and work situation.

  • The call will come from a blocked number after lunch
  • You will be presented with a statement implying your consent: ‘Your parent is ready for discharge. You’ll need to stay with your parent for 48 to 72 hours ….’

I understand if readers of this web site think I am hard-hearted but believe it or not, I do try to be a helpful soul but being the giving people we caregivers tend to be, you’ll say yes before realizing it. Look, I realize that governments need to cut back these days because times are hard and that I’m writing from the comparative luxury of a country with national medicine (sorry to our American friends) but ethically, given everything else you do, you’re allowed to use the ‘no’ word.

Practical advice:

If your bi-polar parent is in the hospital for a comparatively minor procedure, and it is Friday, expect a call from a blocked number from someone very, very, very, very well-practiced at getting you to agree to having you take your bi-polar parent into your home for observation. If you say ‘no’ the social agency officers will find a place for your parent. It may be in an irregular ward, but they’ll find a spot, don’t worry.

What are the ethics of this? Look, you are under no obligation to say yes to something astonishingly disruptive just because someone asks. Given everything else that I do, the ‘no’ word is probably one I should use more often.  I remember once I was giving a speech one evening and I got the call. They wanted to know what the speech was about and where I was giving it.

Prepare for the call on Friday afternoon. I am not you and you are not me so we’ll each handle it differently.

  1. If it’s not possible, use the ‘No’ word but be prepared to be on the phone with someone who has a lot of experience in getting you to agree. Have your answers ready. A white lie may be needed here (kids with the gastro, you’re on a trip and are already 400 km away, tell them you’re in the hospital yourself with the Lurgi, or you live in a tree.) Be warned, they’ve heard them all so have your explanation ready. Note that I say explanation and not lie. A legitimate reason to say no is exactly that.
  2. If you cannot say no, you just don’t have the personality for it, on Friday afternoon, do not answer the telephone if an unfamiliar or blocked number rings.
  3. Visit the hospital late at night after the discharge office is closed, after 8:30 p.m. is usually safe.
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Audio: All in the Mind

All in the Mind is a BBC Radio 4 programme dealing with the limits and potential of the human mind in relation to psychology, neuro science, mental health and the law and is presented by the immensely bone-able Claudia Hammond.

You can listen each week on Tuesday, on demand or subscribe to the podcast. The archives in the first link is worth exploring as there are nearly 100 episodes on file. Three episodes may be of particular interest to you.

  • Schizophrenia  and caregiving — Tim Salmon’s son developed schizophrenia after college and the past twenty years have been a desperate struggle to secure him the care and support he needs. In this episode, Tim tells about the daily reality of living with this little understood illness and criticises the woeful inadequacies of provision in our society for those with mental illness.
  • Dementia — We don’t know the cause, there is no treatment or cure, and it is fatal. Dementia is the health challenge of this generation. This show also examines what is to be expected in the forthcoming UK Dementia Strategy
  • Siblings with Mental Health Problems — While parents often care for young people with mental health problems it can also raise issues for their siblings. They might have fears for their own mental health or worry about the change in their relationship to their brother or sister. How easy is it to share worries about your own mental health if you feel it’s minor in comparison to your brother or sister? And what of the future and the responsibilities you may one day inherit from your parents. Listen to hear about these and other issues.

BBC Radio 4 — All In the Mind

Tagged , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: