Organising a family can sometimes be tricky. Regular family meetings function to check in with each other, see how everyone is coping, and ensure that everything is taken care of – especially in regards to caring for an elderly parent. But there are often barriers that we find to holding to regular family meetings, and the risks of not holding them are that siblings end up feeling isolated, and often feeling like they’re not doing enough to help.
Especially in Canada, geography tends to be a major barrier to family meetings. The good news is that technology has revolutionised the way that families communicate, with Skype and large TVs/monitors that make it feel almost as if you were in the room together.
Many families going through this period are called the ‘Sandwich Generation’ – sandwiched between caring for an elderly parent, while raising their own children. With careers and other commitments on top, it is suffice to say that schedules are busy, and scheduling in a family meeting can seem impossible. In order to overcome this barrier, family members need to make a commitment to each other and prioritise this time together. Above all, they need to support each other and understand that their lives are busy.
Many family members worry that no one else will want to have a family meeting, especially because the subject may be difficult. Primary carers have a tendency to want to protect other siblings, while some family members may be struggling to cope emotionally. The reality is that all of the above are the reasons why family meetings are important – getting all of these feelings and concerns in the open allows you to overcome them.
Invite the Caregiver
If there is already a paid caregiver in your elderly parents’ life, it is a great idea to invite them along, in order to get a full picture of how things are going. Many families worry that it is not appropriate to ask them to take the extra time for a meeting outside of their normal schedule, but it is often the case that caregivers are, as the title would suggest, extremely caring and want to do the best for the family. If you can make it work to include them in the meeting, you will be really glad you did.
Stick to it
Some meetings may be harder than others, but it’s important to stay committed to holding them frequently. It’s part of running a supportive family and doing the best you can for your elderly parent.