Talking With Siblings About an Older Parent's Health During the Holidays
Caring for your loved one may at times be a complex task, and their needs can change quickly. But long-distance siblings and non-caregiving family members might not be aware of this, and the distance can prevent them from understanding just how challenging caregiving is on a daily basis.
The holidays are a good time to talk about a loved one’s care and to create a plan for the future. Holding a family meeting when everyone is in town is a great way to get started. It can provide the senior and other family decision-makers with an opportunity to work together.
Talking about Assisted Living during the Holidays
Here are a few tips to help your family meeting go more smoothly.
- Designate a facilitator: Select someone who can remain calm and unbiased to act as a facilitator for the meeting. They can help keep the discussion on track and make sure everyone has a voice in the process. Sometimes a neutral party, like an elder care meditator or a geriatric care manager, can help ensure a good outcome.
- Encourage loved ones to be objective: A common challenge during these meetings is getting everyone to be objective about the senior’s health and physical condition. This is especially difficult for those who live far away or aren’t actively involved in the older adult’s daily life. It is easier for them to deny there is a problem because they aren’t around as much.
- Create and share an agenda: Before the meeting takes place, ask everyone to send you or the facilitator a list of concerns. Use them to create an agenda to share a day or two before the family meeting. Health conditions, medications, and a senior’s financial situation should all be topics on the agenda.
- Include everyone: Don’t let distance keep you from meeting to talk about a senior loved one’s care. If some family members can’t make it home for the holidays, use technology like a webcam or Skype to allow everyone to be involved in the discussion.
- Let all voices be heard: It isn’t uncommon for these types of meetings to be emotional. Old sibling rivalries and conflicts can rear up again. During the meeting, all voices deserve to be heard. This includes your senior loved one’s voice. Empower the facilitator to keep things from getting out of control and to cut off those who are unfairly dominating the conversation.
- Leave with a plan: Before the meeting concludes, create a plan of care and a list of tasks for each person to follow up on. It might be that faraway siblings help research senior living communities online and make phone calls. Once the community options are narrowed down, those family members who live closest can visit each one in person. Agree to meet again—even by phone—until you find a solution that works for your loved one.
Unsure What Type of Care You Need?
The Sunrise Care Questionnaire will walk you through a series of questions to determine what level of care best meets their needs. In less than five minutes, you’ll have a better understanding of where to begin your search.