When Family Meetings are Appropriate
Perhaps you’ve noticed some subtle changes in a beloved grandparent. Maybe they are having trouble remembering where they left certain things. Perhaps they seem to be forgetting directions more and more often. There are a wide variety of issues that can present themselves in the life of an elderly family member or other loved one. Maybe you’ve considered having a family meeting before, but the latest incident, whatever it is, has sealed the deal.
The truth is that no one wants to admit they’re getting older and need help because of it. No one wants to admit they can’t do the things they used to do, can’t move like they used to, or are constantly forgetting what they were going to do next. Coming to that realization is often hard to accept.
That’s why it can be extremely helpful to have a family meeting. You can all gather in one place and share your collective concerns and ideas on how to help rectify the situations at hand. Be sure that all able family members can participate, and do not exclude your elderly loved one. If they are willing, they can provide valuable first-hand information as to the problems they are currently experiencing or the issues they are facing with daily life.
It is important to make a game plan when dealing with situations such as this. If you have a large family with many able-bodied members, perhaps you can use that family meeting to make a list of responsibilities that each person will have when it comes to caring for the elder. If you come from a smaller family, it can present more of a challenge to figure things out, but generally the situation can be handled in the same way.
It can also be very important to have occasional family meetings after the initial one. This allows you time to assess how the current game plan and situation is working out. It also allows family members who have been working to care for their loved one over time to share feedback and concerns they may have. Having family meetings during the care-giving period allows for members of the family to sit and discuss with one another the aspects of care that are working, and those that maybe need to be tweaked a little. Perhaps a brother is better able to provide a certain type of care than a sister. You might give the brother the duties that the sister is unable to carry out, or vice-versa. Also, don’t forget to check in with your own feelings and your other family members to make sure that you can each handle the new situation. If you need help, ask for it.When it comes down to it, caring for an elderly family member is a balancing act, and oftentimes it takes an adjustment period to get things right. Don’t be afraid to sit down and talk about what works and what doesn’t. The more often you have that time to figure things out, the better you as a family unit will be able to help provide the care and support that your loved one needs at this point in their life.