Families that make decisions together, cooperate together. Well, at least in an ideal world. In reality, while families are coming together over a busy holiday and using this time to hold meetings, discussing the care and concerns of an aging loved one, decisions that are made can fall apart, are ignored or forgotten, or the distributed responsibilities fall back upon the shoulders of one or two frustrated caregivers again.
Unfortunately, family meetings are often fraught with tensions, underlying fears, long-felt entitlements, and can easily turn into conflicts difficult to resolve when apart. If you want productive discussions to result in decisive strategies for the care and well-being of your loved one, now and into the future, keep the following in mind.
Who should be there? Ask yourself who should be included in the decision making? Whether or not the relative in question is present, their preferences for care should be carefully considered. After all, it is their life being discussed. Some families prefer having the first meeting without the loved one present. Those with dementia may misinterpret the purpose of the meeting and feel threatened. If someone cannot attend, consider teleconferencing or using an internet video chat.
Planning a Meeting Time, Place, Goals and Agenda - Setting aside a time strictly for this family meeting is important, as you want it to be productive and not another social get-together. Stating the purpose of the meeting beforehand and proposing an agenda gives everyone a chance to think about their opinions on the decisions at hand and to consider options. They may also wish to add to the agenda. Consider holding the meeting at a local coffee shop or neutral meeting place. Setting goals for the meeting is a way to keep on topic, and to see progress.
Consider Hiring a Facilitator - When it comes to decisions regarding the care of a loved one, emotions can damage efforts at communication or families may be divided on a big issue. Hiring a facilitator such as a social worker, minister, case manager or family counselor may improve the efficiency of time together, ensures everyone’s opinion is heard and may even keep everyone on their best behaviour.
Consensus and Compromise - Not everyone is going to agree with the decisions made. Work towards consensus-based decisions and compromises that can work for the majority of family members and still respect the wants and needs of your loved one.
Put it in Writing - Write down the final, agreed upon decisions clearly. Outline the individual steps required to reach these final decisions and whom will be responsible for them. Consider adding timelines. This document can be signed, or at least a copy sent to everyone with their own understood responsibilities highlighted. For example, homecare may be decided upon, but who is going to find the proper homecare agency? Who is going to pay for the bills? Who is going to be on call in case of emergency? And so on. These are practical details that can’t be overlooked.
Consider Homecare Services - Personalized and reliable caregivers from Premier Homecare Services make life easier for many families. Please contact your local office and speak with a care coordinator on how our services can help your family.
RELATED POSTS & RESOURCES:
Care Management Skills You Can Use – Premier Homecare Services Blog
Signs Your Elderly Parents Need Homecare Help – Premier Homecare Services Blog
Holding a Family Meeting – (American) Center for Disease Control (CDC)