“It takes a village” was never a truer statement than when caring for a senior loved one. It’s important for that “village” to maintain effective, ongoing communication so that everyone involved with care is on the same page for how to care for aging parents. It is also essential to have the chance to express concerns and to come together to find resolutions, to express various perspectives, offer caregiver support and to continue to be proactive in preparing for the future.
Holding family meetings that yield positive outcomes includes thinking through the following:
- Who must be included – and who should not? Certainly, those providing direct or indirect care for the older adult should attend, including any other individuals with a vested concern for the older adult’s overall health. Yet, also keep in mind that while every meeting ought to include the essential members of the older adult’s care team, there might be chances to include others as well, based upon the meeting’s agenda. And in case you worry that emotions may run high, it could be extremely useful to enlist assistance from an objective, trustworthy mediator.
- Should the older loved one participate? There’s no blanket answer to cover all situations, but be cautious about whether or not the conversation could potentially cause the senior to feel guilty or uncomfortable, or whether he or she might have important insight to share. Many times, family members are able to open up and share more honestly when meetings take place without the senior loved one present.
- What’s your agenda? Decide the precise concerns to be talked about, get feedback from attendees, and then provide the agenda to all. Pledge to adhere to those items listed, and to shelve any other matters (aside from emergencies) until the next meeting.
- Where should you meet? Technology provides a wonderful venue for hosting meetings for family spread out by geographic location, however for in-person meetings, it is necessary to pick a location that will be free of distractions, and that will be most comfortable for all. Often a neutral location, like a library meeting room or local restaurant, works best.
- Have you established boundaries? Think about rules that all can agree on in advance of meeting, such as refraining from judging others, listening with an open mind, and ensuring a tone of respect all through the meeting. As the meeting progresses, take notes, and review the notes together at the end of the conversation making sure that everybody is in agreement on choices and commitments made.
The knowledgeable care team at Midnight Sun Home Care is available to join and facilitate family meetings for our clients, and to provide solutions to concerns raised when figuring out how to care for aging parents. Give us a call at (907) 677-7890 any time for help!