“It takes a village” was never a truer statement than when applied to being a caregiver for an adult loved one. And, it’s necessary for that “village” to keep up successful, ongoing communication in order to provide the best care, making certain that all participants are on the same page. It’s also crucial for family caregivers to have the opportunity to express concerns and to come together to find resolutions, to express different perspectives, and to continue to be proactive in preparing for the future.
Holding family meetings that yield positive outcomes includes thinking through the following:
- Who should be included – and who should not? Naturally, those providing direct or indirect care for the older adult should attend, along with any other people with a vested interest in the older adult’s health and wellbeing. Yet, also remember that while each meeting ought to include the essential members of the older adult’s care team, there might be opportunities to include others as well, based upon the meeting’s agenda. And if you’re concerned that emotions may run high, it could be extremely beneficial to enlist the assistance of an unbiased, trusted mediator.
- Must the older loved one attend? There’s no blanket answer to cover all circumstances, but think carefully about whether or not the discussion might cause your loved one to feel guilty or uncomfortable, or whether he or she may have useful insight to share. Often family members feel more willing to open up and share more truthfully when meetings take place without the older adult present.
- What’s your agenda? Identify the exact issues to be talked about, getting feedback from attendees, and then provide the agenda to all. Pledge to follow those items listed, and to shelve any other concerns (aside from emergencies) until the subsequent meeting.
- Where should you meet? Technology provides a wonderful venue for hosting meetings for family challenged by geographic location. Nevertheless, for in-person meetings, it is imperative to pick a place that will be free from distractions, and that will be most comfortable for all. Often a neutral location, such as a library meeting room or local restaurant, is ideal.
- Have you specified boundaries? Think through rules that everyone can agree on before the meeting. Some examples include refraining from judging others, listening with an open mind, and promising to maintain a tone of respect throughout the meeting. As the meeting progresses, make notes, and review the notes together at the conclusion of the conversation to ensure that everybody is in agreement on decisions and commitments made.
The knowledgeable care team at CareWorks Health Services is available to attend family meetings for our clients, and to present answers to concerns raised. For more information about the availability of in-home support services in Orange County, contact us at (949) 859-4700 and see our full service area.