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Things to Consider When Planning a Family Meeting

When an aging loved one’s health, safety, or well-being becomes a concern, family members often must come together to figure out short- and long-term care solutions. Transition care planning is not something to be taken lightly, and you have many living options to consider. Determining whether it's time for a nursing home or if your loved one could benefit from in-home care takes some important considerations.

Family meetings can be a helpful tool in the care planning process. Before rallying the troops, here are some things to consider.

Include All Core Parties

Each family has its own dynamics, and who is considered family can vary. Anyone involved in caregiving or decision-making should be invited, whether a spouse, child, sibling, religious advisor, neighbor, or friend. Some find it helpful to have the first meeting without the loved one involved in case people want to bring up issues that may be painful or confusing for that person to hear. After that, be sure to include that family member to ensure their preferences are honored.

Gather & Share Information

From medical conditions to finances to power of attorney, ensure everyone understands the loved one’s situation clearly. For example, the right information can help you decide between moving parents to an assisted living community or arranging memory care services at home. Different factors such as medical care, cost, lifestyle, and even the senior living communities themselves all depend on understanding the correct information.

Find the Right Gathering Spot

Privacy is key, so a public space may not be the best venue. For family members who live far away, include them via video chat or speakerphone. Ideally, you want every family member on the same page by the time a care plan is implemented, so getting everyone together to discuss is important. We understand that can be a difficult request in family planning, but an aging parent's transition to a new senior care arrangement will go smoother without any major family disagreements.

Determine a Cadence

Most likely, all the topics that need to be discussed won’t be covered in one meeting. Set up a regular time to meet. Make sure you consider everyone's schedule and pick a time that fits with as many people as possible. If there isn't a time that includes everyone, have someone take notes or schedule another meeting to fill in those who couldn't attend the first one.

Establish Goals & Delegate Tasks

Ahead of each meeting, identify the main thing that needs to get resolved and put it at the top of the list. Pro tip: keeping the agenda short and to the point can help keep family members on-topic. During meetings, assign to-dos and agree on completion deadlines. Send a recap after the meeting to ensure everyone follows through on their commitments.

Focus on the Present

When families get together, it’s not uncommon to bring up issues from the past. Don’t open up old wounds. Keep the attention on your loved one and their immediate and future needs. Remember that everyone wants what's best for their family member, and arguing about unsettled family drama makes achieving the best possible outcome more difficult.

Enlist Outside Help

When emotions run high, or there are too many opinions, having an objective professional can help cool tensions and aid in decision-making. A social worker, geriatric care manager, mediator, or clergy can provide that outside perspective. In addition, an elder law attorney may be good to consult if there are complex legal or financial matters.

For more in-depth information on family meetings, including sample agenda topics, check out this guide from the Family Caregiver Alliance.

Consider In-Home Care

Not everyone who needs help with daily living has to move out of the comfort of home. With in-home care services, your loved one can get high-quality care in familiar surroundings. In-home care is an excellent option for older adults who need help staying independent but don’t need specialized medical care.

At ComForCare, we have a wealth of resources for families navigating their loved ones’ long-term care planning journey. If you think your loved one could benefit from in-home care, contact your local ComForCare Home Care to learn how we help people live their best lives possible.

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