Holding a Family Caregiving Meeting
Contributed by Caroline Currier
The Holiday season is an opportune time to host a family caregiving meeting and discuss the next stages of life for an aging loved one. Family caregiving meetings can foster cooperation among family members and lessen the stress associated with caring for an aging loved one. Whether your aging loved one is in excellent health or presently battling a serious illness, this article explains how to orchestrate such a meeting and approach the sensitive topics involved.
When should a family have a caregiving meeting?
It is important to start this conversation in a comfortable setting, when all parties, or most, can attend. The first family meeting can occur before an aging loved one actually needs care. This can give the person who may eventually need care more say in their future care, but often times this does not occur. Most families find that the initial meeting needs to occur when an aging loved one begins to show signs of needing care or when a diagnosis is given that determines care will soon be needed. In addition, meetings should be scheduled regularly to discuss changes in diagnosis, prognosis, or general needs of the loved one or the caregivers.
Who should attend a family caregiving meeting?
There are a number of people who should be included in a family caregiving meeting. First and foremost, it is important to include the aging loved one in the meeting whenever possible. This helps the aging loved one to feel that they are being heard and that their opinions and thoughts are being considered. If a spouse is living, the spouse should be included, as well as any children and possibly siblings of the aging person. Some families may choose to include other family members, but this really varies from one family to another. Anyone else involved in care for the person should also be there. This could include paid caregivers, family friends, or neighbors. Depending on family dynamics, a facilitator can be helpful in running the meeting.
How can a family hold a successful caregiving meeting?
The key to having a successful caregiving meeting is cooperation. This doesn’t mean that family members will agree on everything, but it is important that all family members are respectfully heard and considered. Families must be willing to compromise and seek the best plan for their aging loved one. Additionally, a smoothly run meeting should have an agenda and families should try to stay focused on the items included on the agenda. When holding a meeting, always put things in writing and be sure that all those involved get a copy of the important information and everyone’s responsibilities.
What challenges do families face in caregiving meetings?
One of the biggest challenges to family caregiving meetings is the family’s history. All families have their own dynamics that can cause problems in a caregiving meeting. There may be members of the family who are at odds with one another, creating an obstacle to having a successful caregiving meeting. The role that each family member plays can be a challenge. Some members may be overbearing and demand control, while others are peacemakers and do not feel free to share their thoughts. Another challenge is that some family members may be in denial of the severity of an aging loved one’s needs which could make it difficult to get a consensus for care. It is important that families remember that the meetings are for the care of their loved one and cooperation with one another will help the process to run more smoothly and successfully.
What do we discuss at a caregiving meeting?
The agenda for a family caregiving meeting may differ slightly depending on the current state of your family member’s health. Our article entitled “Four Conversations to Have with Aging Family Members this Holiday Season” covers four essential topics to cover in any caregiving meeting. If your relatives are still in good health, these four topics alone are a great starting point for your agenda. However, if your family member’s health is already in decline, you may also discuss the family member’s health in greater detail to ensure that all family members are abreast of changes to an individual’s diagnosis or prognosis and any healthcare decisions that need to be made. It is important that all family members feel that they have a voice.
If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact our elder law attorneys at Miller, Butler, Schneider, Pawlik, & Rozzell, PLLC.