If you are an adult child who acts as the primary caregiver for an aging parent, you are probably the sibling most attuned to their needs. And you are likely aware of how quickly those needs can change. Long-distance siblings and those who don’t participate in caregiving might not be as aware of the type and extent of care your parent requires. They might also be in denial about the parent’s decline in health, and unaware that a move to assisted living may be on the horizon.
The upcoming holidays are a good time to talk with siblings about a loved one’s care and to create a care plan for the future. If all of the siblings will be in town, it is a good opportunity to hold a family meeting in person. We have some suggestions for making the meeting positive and productive.
Talking with Sibling about Assisted Living
- Designate a facilitator: When emotions are high, it’s easy for tempers and old rivalries to flare. It may be helpful to designate a facilitator. This should be someone you can rely on to remain calm and impartial during the meeting. This person can keep the discussion on track and ensure all voices are heard. Sometimes families find it helpful to employ the services of a neutral party, like a family meditator or an aging life care manager.
- Encourage everyone to be kind: A common challenge families face during these meetings is getting everyone to be objective about the senior’s health and physical condition. Another is getting everyone to work together and be kind. Don’t let anyone family member dominate the discussion.
- Create and distribute an agenda: Before the meeting occurs, ask everyone to send you or the facilitator items they would like to place on the agenda. Use these ideas to create a list of discussion topics and email it to everyone a few days before the family meeting. The senior’s medication schedule, finances, household tasks, and transportation needs are a few items to consider.
- Use technology to include everyone: Don’t let busy schedules or geographic distance keep anyone from participating in the discussion. If some siblings can’t make it home for the holidays, use a video-chat platform like Zoom or Skype to conference them in.
- Leave with a plan: Designate someone to take notes during the meeting. Identify any items where follow-up is required. Before the meeting is over, review what each family member will do before the next meeting. Faraway siblings may be able to help research assisted living communities online and make phone calls. Those who live closest can visit the communities in person. Agree to continue meeting—even by video chat—until an informed decision is reached.
Manage Caregiver Stress
While you are working with your siblings on a solution, you might be feeling overwhelmed by caregiver stress. While caring for an aging parent can be rewarding, there’s no denying it can also be difficult. We invite you to download this free guide Caregiver Stress: 5 Tips for Managing Life as a Caregiver for advice.