The last thing that most end of life patients want to deal with, is a family feud over the patient’s medical treatment and care. However, these family feuds are a common occurrence, especially when family members have other, pre-existing disagreements.
This was the subject of a recent article in the Washington Post titled "A united family can make all the difference when someone is dying."
Doctors have a name for one of the common problems that can arise. They call it the "Daughter from California syndrome." This can happen when family members compete with each other over who cares for the elderly patient the most. Often, someone who lives far away goes too far and is the source of disruptions.
Another source of problems for families is when the person who the patient put in charge of things goes too far and refuses to cooperate with others. For example, someone given authority in a health care power of attorney may refuse to listen to the opinions of other family members. This can create unnecessary tension, especially when decisions have to be made that are outside the scope of any advanced directives.
The best thing that a family can do to help an elderly patient at the end of life is to work together, communicate freely and come to consensus decisions concerning treatment and care. The patient can help this greatly, if he or she has previously executed detailed advanced directives that designate appropriate people to be in charge.
Reference: Washington Post (Nov. 20, 2016) "A united family can make all the difference when someone is dying."