Carol Bradley Bursack, Published May 22 2011
Bursack: Arranging a family meeting
Sue is evading any talk about what to do with Mom. We need to discuss this with her, and the other daughter and son. I can’t take on the full-time care again, so another care center close to one of us is the best idea. The family acts like the issue will just go away. I suppose it’s some kind of denial. I am unsure how to go about tactfully setting up a family meeting. Any suggestions will be gratefully received. – Glorianna
Dear Glorianna: Family meetings can be a very effective way to plan out elder care. I’m assuming that there’s a reason why your husband isn’t arranging the meeting, but if he’s just left it to you by default, press him to take over the helm. This is his family and his mother, and you shouldn’t have to shoulder the whole responsibility.
I’d suggest sending family members a low key, simple group email calling for a planning session. It’s possible that the siblings are more willing to meet and discuss the matter than you know. Since you took care of Mom for so long, they may just assume from habit that you will take care of all arrangements.
Let everyone know that you and your husband feel strongly that if Sue moves – please make it plain that she has a right to move if her life has changed – the family may have to move Mom to a different care center.
Sometimes having a professional – such as a clergy member, a doctor, a geriatric care manager or a social worker – present during the meeting is helpful. It’s possible the Alzheimer’s Association may have a social worker who can advise you.
A family meeting to discuss this issue is wise. “Sue” is likely struggling with guilt about needing to move, so be genuinely kind to her on this issue. Try to keep emotions in check and stress that the whole idea is about Mom, not anyone else.
If necessary, ask the third party you contact to take part in the meeting to defuse family dynamics.
Good luck. Mom’s care is a family matter and a plan must be implemented soon.
Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.