It takes a family to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, which is why it is important for everyone in the family to be on the same page. Here are a few tips for effective communication through family meetings:
- Invite everyone who is going to be expected to help make and implement decisions. This includes the person with dementia if he/she can participate. Meet at a time and place convenient for everyone.
- Meet before a crisis arises. Diagnosis is a good time for planning.
- Have Clear Goals. Some questions to help formulate your goals might include: How can we provide our loved one with the needed care? What plans do we need to make for the future? How can we support the primary caregiver(s)?
- Prepare. Have members gather needed information ahead of time: the doctor’s recommendations for care, information on financial resources, existing legal documents or a list of needed legal documents.
- Agree to ground rules:
- Appoint a leader to keep the discussion on track and someone to record decisions.
- Set a clear beginning and ending time for the discussion.
- Build in some “fun.” Serve snacks/food after business is completed.
- Avoid getting bogged down – you may need to make a list of questions to be addressed at a later date.
- Keep personal differences off of the table. Use a professional facilitator if you think it may help to avoid conflict.
- Allow time for difficult emotions; if family members are angry or distressed, take a break before making decisions.
- Encourage everyone to express his/her thoughts and feelings and be respectful of each other.
- Decide who will do what by when. Make sure everyone has a role – set up clear lines of communication.
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