How to Organize a Family Meeting to Talk About Elderly Care
August 15, 2017
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
Part of caring for an elderly parent involves coordinating care and making sure family members are all on the same page.
Of course, sometimes family dynamics are messy, making for difficult family meetings.
In addition, if your parent has had a sudden change in care needs, communication between family members can be even tougher because everyone’s emotions are running high.
It can be hard to come to a decision together about whether your parent needs home care, how often they need a home care provider to visit, or if an even higher level of care is needed.
3 Tips for Organizing a Family Meeting to Talk About Elderly Care
Having a plan and some ground rules can make a family meeting go more smoothly because everyone will know what to expect.
1. Decide Who Should Attend
Knowing who should attend a family meeting sounds like it should be easy, but depending on the family, it may not be quite so simple. For example, if you’re planning a meeting about your parent’s need for home care, do only your siblings attend the meeting with you, or do their spouses attend as well?
The meeting should at least include everyone that will be responsible for some aspect of your parent’s care.
Perhaps the best way to go about deciding on participants is to make a list of who you believe should attend and share it with everyone on the list. Ask if they think anyone else should be there, then come to a consensus on the final list. If some people live at a distance, consider having them attend by phone or video conference.
2. Create an Agenda
Providing everyone with an agenda can keep the meeting focused and ensure you decide on the important issues.
To start the meeting, it may be good to share the latest report from your parent’s doctor or to summarize the concerns.
Recognize that talking about a parent’s care can be emotional and everyone may handle it differently. Allow time in the agenda for people to share their feelings, but draw people back to the agenda as needed.
Some important things to talk about may be what your parent’s daily care needs are, the financial aspects of care, and what role each person will play.
3. Ground Rules for Family Meetings
It may be a good idea to set some basic ground rules for all family members to follow.
Ground rules might include some of the following:
1. Cell phones, televisions, and radios should be turned off to allow everyone to focus on the meeting.
2. No side conversations.
3. All members should be respectful of the opinions of others.
4. Everyone gets a chance to talk.
5. Set an ending time for the meeting to cut down on tangents and keep everyone focused on the agenda.
6. If possible, your parent should also be given a chance to speak and should have a say in their care plan.
Even with a plan in place, sometimes family meetings are not successful. If that is the case, it may be helpful to have someone act as a moderator during the meeting. You may be able to ask a trusted family friend to take this role, or it may be necessary to bring in outside help, such as a pastor or social worker.
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