If you have a loved one that may need assistance, a family meeting is a viable option for weighing out what needs to be done. Almost nothing is more crucial in times of family crisis than having a family support system ready to act. Why a family meeting? Unless you are an only child and your parent has no living relatives, you owe it to yourself, your parent and your siblings to have the entire family actively involved in caring for your loved one. Family meetings can help family caregivers to delegate tasks and rally support around a loved one in need. This can be a lot for one person to take on, so the importance of asking for help is crucial. The Society of Certified Senior Advisors (CSA) has outlined some guidelines for planning a family meeting:
Include all core family members. Ideally, have everyone meet in person. If someone can't be there physically, have a conference call to include him or her. If you will be discussing a loved one's fate, it may be best not to have them present at the first meeting. This will ensure family members can openly discuss this very important topic without fear of hurting their loved one.
Select a comfortable, neutral and private location for the meeting. Make sure you find a place where everyone can feel at ease. Also, prepare for the meeting to get heated. Privacy is essential. Establish the main purpose of the meeting and set a short agenda. This will help your family stay on task instead of bouncing around and trying to solve every issue in one meeting.
Collect and share information. Browse the internet and gather information to make sure everyone has the same understanding of your loved one's condition or disease.
If you don't feel right managing the meeting, bring in a mediator. Consider enlisting or hiring someone more comfortable with the mediator role. An additional resource that is geared toward helping families to rally around a loved one is CareTogether.com, a Website that allows you to create a free, private and secure page about your loved one and invite other family members to join. There, you can manage your loved one’s appointments on a calendar that can be shared with your family members as well as share key updates about the latest on your loved one.