“It takes a village” was never a more accurate statement than when caring for aging parents. It’s very important for that “village” to maintain effective, ongoing communication so that you can provide the very best care and ensure that everyone taking part in care is on the same page. It’s also essential for family caregivers to have the opportunity to express concerns and to come together to find resolutions, to share different perspectives, and also to continue to be proactive in preparing for the future.
Holding family meetings that produce good outcomes includes thinking through the following:
- Who should always be included – and who should not? Certainly, those providing care for the older adult should attend, as well as any other people with a concern for the older adult's health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, also take into account that while each meeting ought to include the members of the older adult's care team, there may be chances to include others as well, depending on the meeting’s agenda. And if you fear that emotions may run high, it could be exceedingly beneficial to enlist the assistance of an impartial, trusted mediator.
- Must the older loved one attend? There is no blanket answer to cover all scenarios, but think carefully about whether or not the discussion could cause a senior loved one to feel guilty or uncomfortable, or whether he or she may have valuable insight to share. Oftentimes, family members are able to open up and share more honestly when meetings take place without the senior loved one present.
- What is your agenda? Establish the precise challenges to be reviewed, getting feedback from attendees, and then provide the agenda to all. Pledge to stick to those items listed, and to postpone any other topics (apart from emergencies) until the subsequent meeting.
- Where will you meet? Technology provides a great venue for hosting meetings for family spread out by geographic location, but for in-person meetings, it is imperative you pick a location which will be free of distractions, which will be most comfortable for everybody. Often a neutral location, like a library meeting room or local restaurant, works best.
- Have you specified boundaries? Think about rules that everyone can agree on in advance of the meeting, such as abstaining from judging each other, listening with an open mind, and promising a tone of respect throughout the meeting. As the meeting progresses, take notes, and review the notes together at the end of the conversation to make certain that everyone is in agreement on decisions and commitments made.
The professional Windsor-Essex home care team at Amy’s Helping Hands is available to attend and facilitate family meetings for our clients, and to offer solutions to concerns raised. Contact us online or give us a call at 519.915.4370 any time for help!