top of page

Home Care and Dysfunctional Families

Home Care is an industry that primarily works with seniors and their families but also services younger adults who are recovering from an illness or injury. Occasionally we find that we are working with an adult who is part of a dysfunctional family. This can offer many challenges, especially for the person providing care and for the person receiving care. Of course there are no perfect families, there are always issues that someone in the family is working on and there are unique family dynamics. Some families are able to unite in difficult times while others just dissipate farther apart.

Here are tips on how to identify a dysfunctional family and how to work through the dysfunction.

Traits of a healthy functioning family:

  • Solidarity between family members

  • Unity within the family unit

  • Committed to resolving difficulties and differences

  • Having mental and emotional resources in a time of crisis

  • Relying on an outside support system when extra help is needed

  • Creating an emotionally safe environment where everyone can state their opinions without judgment

  • Encouragement and support of each other

  • Quick to forgive

  • Respect for each others differences

  • Pull together in the same direction

  • Open communication

  • Follow the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Traits a less functional family

  • Family bond between members is weak or lacking

  • Little or no communication

  • Communicate indirectly through acting out or sulking

  • Extreme rigid family rules

  • There are addictions with one or more family member

  • High levels of tension and arguing

  • Extended periods of silence, blame and avoidance as the primary coping mechanisms

  • There is a shadow of unpredictability and fear cast over the family and affecting each member

  • An overall message of “don’t feel, don’t talk, don’t trust”

  • Conflicts and misunderstandings arise frequently and are not solved

  • Don’t express feelings openly or honestly

  • Family members don’t pull together to find solutions to problems; they are more likely to blame problems on each other or to leave the problems unresolved

  • Emotional abuse, chemical dependency, compulsive behavior

Tips for working with dysfunctional families:

  • Change is difficult and takes time; be patient with yourself

  • Keep in mind you are not responsible for changing of “fixing” the whole family

  • Communicate effectively, be kind, tell the truth and emphasize the positive

  • Rely on your own sense of what’s right and do what you believe is best at the moment

  • When it’s necessary to deal with the family, try to deal with the family member who is the easiest to work with

  • Suggest, guide, support and educate

  • Don’t address ALL of the challenges

  • Protect your own boundaries

  • Avoid getting caught up in the drama. Step back and pretend you are watching a movie

  • When you leave, leave it all behind

  • Remember you can’t change behavior but you can change your response to it

Keep in mind change is something which most human beings resist and have great difficulty with. One of the hardest things to realize is that change is up to each individual, not anyone else, including the family. Everyone has had a conflict with their family at some time or another, but for some it is more of a lifetime struggle involving much confusion and emotional pain. To break free, the individual must take back control over their life. Breaking free involves developing a new, healthier support system of people who respect boundaries and changes. Some support resources are:

  • Social events

  • Hobbies

  • Religious Affiliations

  • 12-step support groups

  • Therapy

  • Anything that makes you smile!

If the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.

Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!

Easy Living Services, Inc.

Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page