For those children who live away, the change they see in their parent's health and mental capacity may be alarming -- whereas siblings that have daily contact are working with these issues constantly. Here is the chance to compare notes and work together as a complete family in the long term care planning process.
For you parents who are well and active, this is a good time to hold a family meeting and share with your children your plan for long term care. Tell them where financial and legal documents are located. Review health care directives, living wills and long term care alternatives.
Experience has shown that even families that are close can quickly grow angry, jealous and hostile towards each other when an aging parent begins to need long term care. If a sibling moves into the parent's home, others can easily be suspicious of ulterior motives and fear losing their inheritance. On the other hand, the child who assumes the role of caregiver becomes bitter and feels there is no support or help from siblings. Meetings for the purpose of making a plan, before eldercare becomes imminent, avoids these types of conflicts.
In its book, The 4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning, the National Care Planning Council provides guidelines and checklists for family planning meetings. Here are some suggestions as taken from the book:
- Get all interested persons together in one place at one time. Taking advantage of the holidays or another special event can be a great way to get everyone together. If this isn't conducive, then perhaps a special dinner might be an incentive.
- Depending on the circumstances surrounding the meeting, the facilitator can be the parent, caregiver, family friend, or a professional advisor.
- The agenda can be formal or informal. If you want a formal agenda, then a care plan should be prepared prior to the meeting and presented to all attendees. The facilitator should work to encourage input from everyone involved through active discussion.
- After a thorough discussion of the issues and the presentation of the solutions to the problems that will be encountered, there should be a consensus of all attending to support the plan. It is not always possible to please everyone so there must sometimes be compromise.
- The end of the meeting should consist of asking everyone present to make his or her commitment to support the plan. GET IT IN WRITING! All good intentions seem to be forgotten with time. It may be years after this meeting before the long term care plan begins.
Whether you plan a formal meeting with an agenda or informally gather for a discussion, when the family is together make it a point to start the long term care planning process. There is a lot to learn and many decisions to make concerning finances, health issues and legal work. It may take research and a lot of time to put a plan together, but if everyone is involved it will work, and be worth it.
For more information, please visit Home Care Assistance or the National Care Planning Council.