A Family Meeting is an excellent way to get the family together to discuss important issues especially those that involve elderly parents. It is very useful to help Mom and Dad decide where they want to live, how to manage their future health care needs, their financial needs and their estate plan.
The meeting should include all of the adult children and both parents if possible. It is important to have a facilitator for the meeting that has no emotional attachment to any decisions which will be made. The Family Meeting is one of the most important steps in parent care planning.
Here are Eight Steps Necessary to have a Successful Family Meeting:
The adult child who is considered the “Alpha Child” or “Family Champion” should enroll everyone in the family to understand the importance of the meeting and secure their promise to be there.
The Facilitator should contact each member of the family in advance to get to know them and hear their concerns and ideas for the meeting.
The Facilitator, based on conversations with each family member should construct an agenda and distribute it to each of them well in advance of the meeting to get their feedback and help them prepare for the meeting.
Parents should understand that their children are providing ideas and sharing their concerns and not trying to control them. When decisions are made the parents wishes take priority.
Family members should treat each other with respect and compassion. The meeting should be held in the context that the family members love and care for each other.
A family member should be assigned as the scribe, to record important decisions, open items and action items that must be completed.
At the end of the meeting open items and action items should be reviewed and assigned to a family member to be followed up. These tasks should be distributed amongst family members and not lie with just one or two people.
A plan for communication between family members should be established. This method of communication should be used to keep everyone up to date on the status of open items and action items.