Tips for Stress-Free and Productive Family Meetings to Discuss the Home Care of a Loved One


When you’re trying to solve a complex problem it can sometimes feel like an overwhelming mountain to climb. You’re not sure how you can do it all alone. The good news is, you may not have to! Often families come together in times of struggle, such as when they’re caring for an older parent. However, these family interactions don’t always run smoothly.[1. “What to Do When Siblings Can’t Agree on a Parent’s Care Needs,”]
So how do you plan or adjust your loved one’s future home care without causing tension and arguments? There’s a way to talk things out reasonably: with a family meeting. And although these words can often bring up feelings of dread, it is possible to get together and work towards a positive outcome.

Geography Can Present Challenges

One of the biggest barriers to holding productive family meetings is also one of the simplest: geography. It can be hard for siblings to meet face to face when they’re in different states, or even on different continents. There is also the “geography,” or the landscape of our daily lives, which are filled with very busy things: work, school, childcare, and more. Fortunately, modern technology makes it easy to address all these issues at once. Innovations such as Skype and FaceTime allow for families to talk in real time without having to leave the comfort of their own homes.

Who Should Be Invited?

Another issue family members struggle with when trying to hold home care meetings is who to invite. Obviously, you want to have your parent there to participate, if they are able. This provides them with the opportunity to have a say in their own future, which is as it should be. But what many people don’t know is that a parent’s presence can also act as a buffer; siblings who are tempted to argue may tone it down when mom or dad is present.
Other than that, try to keep the guest list small. Invite only key stakeholders and decision-makers. If people are only minimally involved or just enjoy giving their opinions (but are in no position to contribute or make decisions), it’s best to inform them of the meetings’ results afterward.
However, in order to be sensitive and avoid hurt feelings as much as possible, tell others in advance that you’ll be meeting. You may want to say something like, “In order to reduce stress for everyone involved, it’ll just be Mom, myself, Ben, and Jerry. We’ll let you know what the outcome is right after the meeting and if you have serious concerns, we can talk about them.” Although some family members may be offended they were left out, you’ll often find that they are relieved to have this responsibility taken off their shoulders.

Selecting Topics for an Agenda

Ah, the all-important question of what to cover during a home care family meeting. The answer? As little as possible. Surprised? This minimalist approach may actually work in your favor. Sticking to a small topic list doesn’t mean avoiding important subjects—quite the contrary. By covering only to what is essential, the meeting will go quicker, more smoothly, and with less opportunity for bickering and nit-picking. However, you may want to make attendees aware of the agenda in advance, in case they want to add items to consider—but only the most essential ones!

Working Together for Future Home Care

After a successful family meeting, what’s next when it comes to arranging home care for your loved one? Besides following up with those who couldn’t be there, be sure to follow up with the plan you all agreed on as well. But be flexible in case there are changes in your loved one’s health, financial circumstances[2. “Key Financial Issues for Seniors and Their Family Caregivers,”], or other things that can affect their home care situation. If you can do these things, you’ll not only take better care of your aging parent, you’ll likely become closer as a family as well.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.

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