We grow close with the families we serve. After all, the support we provide impacts the entire family, and not just the individual client. Having developed relationships with so many families over the years, we have witnessed the ways that family members respond to the changing needs of their loved one.
Getting your family on the same page, towards a united outcome, requires open and honest conversation. Each person might have a different understanding of a loved one’s need for support, their desires for care and each family member’s ability to provide support. This can make for an emotional and difficult process, but can result in the productive and positive outcome we seek.
As we speak with families, we often hear about these conversations. In some cases, our team helps facilitate the process. As a result, we have gathered a few helpful tips that can guide your discussion of care with family into a productive, positive outcome.
Have Ongoing, Intentional Conversations
Most of us tend to be part of what we call the “Frantic Family.” It seems like we are constantly on-the-go with school events, soccer games or tackling the never-ending to-do list around the house. We rarely have time to catch up with our siblings or close relatives, and when we do cross paths, we spend that time catching up on recent events and sharing happy memories. Sound familiar?
As a result, we rarely talk about the deeper topics of life, until we are busy living them. At this point, it is nearly impossible to eliminate the stress that a proactive plan would have reduced.
Rather than waiting until a need arises, take the time to become an “Intentional Family”. Commit to talking once a year, in a structured setting, about topics that are important to each of you. What are your goals and values? Intentional communication around your goals and values will make it easier for family members to support you.
Make Conversations Enjoyable
David Morgan, President of Angels Senior Home Solutions, shared, “One family I know has an annual family meeting, where they each bring topics that are important to them. They ensure that the meeting is enjoyable by taking the time to recognize each other’s strengths, eating together, and even having a backyard volleyball tournament after the meeting.”
Families who make time to have intentional conversations, encourage each other, and have fun together will look forward to the meetings, and will be more engaged.
During the Conversation
Start With A Common Goal
As your family gathers for a structured, intentional discussion, it is helpful to have established goals. If your meeting is focused on meeting the care needs for a loved one, we often encourage families to identify the types of support needed. When everyone can agree upon this common goal, providing the best care and quality of life for a loved one, discussions become more effective.
Once you define the goal, is important for your entire family to understand why the current situation is falling short. If you have started to notice warning signs that a loved one needs assistance, explain what you have discovered to the rest of the family. Ask if others have noticed similar issues, or others that you might not be aware of.
Each member of your family may not understand the different roles and responsibilities each person is addressing for a loved one. Allow time for each family member to share the ways they are currently assisting. Avoid attempting to prioritize or assign importance to one role over another. Instead, use this time to list areas that are being supported currently, and those remaining areas of need to address.
The remaining areas of need identified above will often closely relate to the warning signs you shared early in the discussion. Identify action steps to provide support, focusing on the most serious concerns first. Discover how family members can help fulfill the needs you have identified, while being mindful of how it will impact each person.
Instead of forcing the issue with family members, brainstorm resources that might be available to help provide the support needed. Services such as housekeepers, contractors or transportation services could be the key to bridging the gap. In other situations, your family might need to discuss the value of caregiving services such as Angels Senior Home Solutions. For more information on how caregivers can meet the needs of your loved one, read more here.
Define Next Steps
The goals discussed in your family meetings should create immediate action steps for each member of your family. These steps might be new roles and responsibilities in providing care for a loved one, or tasks associated with bringing in outside help. Before closing out the discussion, define specific steps each member of the family will be responsible for and when they will need to be completed.
Use this time to schedule the next family meeting. The only thing that separates a Frantic Family from an Intentional Family is a commitment to important discussions.
Help is Available
Sometimes your family might need a little bit of guidance and encouragement. Resources are available to facilitate these challenging conversations. Learn more about our Family Matters program here.