Enhancing quality of life by empowering individuals and strengthening communities.

Family Meetings

Tips for a Productive Family Meeting

The purpose of a family meeting is to foster open communication among family members. It is a safe place where everyone is free to say what they think and feel as they cooperate to make decisions and solve problems. A structured meeting helps this to happen when a family is ready for it.

  • Setting aside one-on-one time to talk to the person, before the meeting starts.
  • Create an atmosphere of openness to discuss the full range of topics.
  • Create an agenda, and give it out a couple of days before the meeting.
  • Research different options before attending the meeting.
  • Use respectful listening.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Going over the list of caregiving needs you previously drew up.
  • Pointing out areas in which someone might be able to help.
  • Asking if they would like to help, and if so, in what way do they feel comfortable.
  • Making sure the person understands what would be most helpful for both you and the caregiving recipient.
  • Build consensus.
  • Designate a note-taker to record.
  • Recognize the emotional factors that can surface during a family meeting.
  • Consider enlisting the help of an outside facilitator.
  • Give people time to digest what is happening.
  • Once the meeting has ended use technology to stay connected.
  • Be flexible, be willing to give different ideas a trial run.
  • Give everyone the agenda a couple of days before the meeting.
  • Choose a location where most people will feel comfortable.
  • Meetings can occur regularly, a narrow focus for each meeting can help.
  • Encourage all family members to participate, long-distance caregivers can call in.
  • Speaking in a respectful way helps the group stay calm and keep the discussion productive.
  • Use "I" messages, instead of "you" messages. Watch for hidden "you" messages.
  • Anyone can call a break.
  • Remind everyone that the goal is to talk about care for your older adult, not to fix family issues.
  • Distributing a calendar with different days marked with responsibilities and commitments can also help each person honor the agreements made.
  • Consider having a mediator at the family meeting.
  • End the meeting with something fun that affirms family members.

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