Keys to Successful Family Meetings

cartoon image of a family two seniors, two adults, two kids, one baby with conversation bubbles

When it comes to caring for our older adults there can be many people involved as there are items to discuss.

This is where family and caregiver meetings are imperative. We want everyone to be on the same page and everyone will have different thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs.

The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) promotes 5 Keys to holding a successful Caregiver Meeting. By following these steps we can ensure that not only does the older adult get the appropriate level of care and that all parties are doing their share.

Who Should Attend?

  • Family-Every family is different and has a different perspective as to who is “family”. Generally you want to include the people that are a part of the team which could mean friends, extended family, paid and unpaid caregivers.
  • The Group Can Change-The topic (family finances vs meal-planning and housework) may determine who is in attendance at any given meeting
  • Mediator-Do you need one? These may be challenging discussions and often a “non-interested” 3rd Party can help.
  • Including the Older Adult….Or Not-This will depend on the situation and the individual. Make sure you and your team include the older adult as necessary.

How Do We Begin?

  • Technology provides an opportunity for everyone to attend regardless of their location. Make sure you utilize Skype and Google Hangouts as options
  • Have an agenda. This is very important so everyone know what is to be discussed at this particular meeting. Then you can take suggestions for topics at an upcoming meeting. The FCA has some topic examples to use as a guide.

The Meeting

  • Choose a location that people feel comfortable. At a family member’s house or some place neutral such as a coffee shop, library, etc.
  • Create a “safe place” for an open discussion. Everyone will want to be able to express their thoughts and feelings without fear of being judged or attacked.
  • Don’t jump into problem solving at the first meeting. Use this first meeting to hear everyone’s thoughts and concerns. Make a list of the topics.
  • Be respectful and use words that keep everyone calm and the meeting productive. “I feel…” rather than “you always…” If there is a disagreement find some sort of common ground.
  • Make sure agreements & responsibilities are clear. Before you end the meeting make sure all parties know what they are to do and what the timelines look like. Get solid commitment from each person.
  • Meet regularly…caring for an older adult is an continuous responsibility. You want to meet on a regular basis to keep everyone up-to-date on medical issues, etc. Setting up a regular time and place can be helpful; so it is a standing date on everyone’s calendar.

Potential Challenges

  • Family meetings are not always smooth. There is always some history that may or may not be helpful and conducive to a productive meeting. Also, people deal differently with sensitive subjects….especially where their mother or father are concerned.
  • This article includes helpful examples of potential conflict and how to work best in understanding and keeping the meeting moving forward in a productive way.

Win/Win Situations

  • Work toward general agreement. Not everything is going to be completely solved in one meeting or in ten. Even if a meeting gets stressful and uncomfortalble remember it is the care of the older adult that is important.
  • Accept compromises and appreciate help. There is no perfect solution for everyone. Each person involved with have to compromise in some way at some time.
  • Keep everything in writing. There are many topics that are discussed and the landscape can change. Make sure everything is in writing including who is responsible for what, deadlines, timelines, etc.

Published by Living In DFW

I guess you can take the girl out of Texas but you can't take Texas out of the girl. I was born here in Dallas and moved away at age 8. After 30 years of moving around the United States, as a child with the family and as an adult without them, I finally found myself back in Dallas. Since I returned in 2001 I have sold furniture for Crate&Barrel and Real Estate with Keller Williams. It is my hope to share with you what I love, question, and find interesting here in DFW.

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