5 Ways to Make Family Meetings Work for Your Family

Even if you've never been the type of clan to hold such gatherings, family meetings can be a time-efficient way to discuss the various issues that might come up in the course of caregiving. Great focal points include anything from healthcare concerns to how finances should be managed.

Some tips to give the meeting habit a good start:

  • In planning, think as broadly as seems relevant -- don't overlook geographically distant siblings, stepsiblings or stepchildren, or adult grandchildren. Anyone with a direct stake in the outcome of a decision, or who is directly affected, should be involved.

  • If you can't all be in the same place at the same time, make use of a free conference-call telephone service. To find one, search online using the terms free conference calls or free family calls.

    SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

  • Suggest making meetings regular. Pick every Sunday afternoon, or the first Saturday of every month -- whatever makes sense.

  • Invite agenda input from everyone participating. Each person might be seeing priorities differently.

  • If feelings are running high or relationships are contentious, consider inviting a neutral third-party to run the meeting, such as an elder-statesman relative or a geriatric care manager.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

almost 7 years, said...

How to deal with controlling personalities!

almost 7 years, said...

This is great-family meetings can help things go so much more smoothly in eldercare. Even families that get along great can have misunderstandings if everyone isn't in the loop and on the same page. I agree with your statement about having a neutral party if there are disagreements, etc. but would also mention that sometimes that neutral party can help even when not. We do a lot of consultations with families in our geriatric care management practice (http://www.agingwisely.com/now-offering-nationwide-care-consultations/) just to help facilitate the conversations, and so that the client and family has an expert at hand (for example, we all agree something is a good idea, but perhaps the care manager can explain how the program or resource we are considering is wait-listed right now, so the discussion leads in to other alternatives rather than a lot of time wasted on exploring things that aren't an option). Similarly, at some point getting a professional assessment can provide the info. the family needs to have a better-informed discussion. There are some great online caregiver tools now that families can use to communicate as well...not so much for the family meeting but for the in-between and keeping everyone up to date.

almost 7 years, said...

It can be helpful to have some ground rules and make them clear before beginning. One important rule is that whoever has the floor gets to speak, and the others are listening. It can be helpful to have someone chair the meeting. Its fun to have a child be the chair; its an opportunity for them to be a leader.

almost 7 years, said...

Having regrlar meetings to let everyone know what is going on. Also to get others input. Having Step-children as well as grandchildren get involed.