The post-game family debrief post thanksgiving
We continue our series on Aging as a team sport…in this episode, we highlight ways to structure the family debrief after you’ve come together for the Thanksgiving holiday.
You’ve just been home. The smell of Turkey and pumpkin pie is still a fresh memory…and maybe those pants feel a little tighter… that sounds like it was just the way Thanksgiving was supposed to go. If you were able to interact with your Older relatives, or aging parents during the holiday, this post holiday weekend is a great time to reconnect with your siblings to discuss and debrief your observations of your Older during the holiday. This may be the holiday that you all discovered that caring for your aging parent is going to require a structured approach.
If your group of siblings cannot meet face to face, we recommend that you come together over zoom to debrief your observations. Now this is family…and although you may be an accomplished professional in your daily life, you are still a sister or brother so be sure that you all make it clear how each person is valued and worthy of being heard. Ensure your family meeting gives everyone a chance to express gratitude for the time spent together and transition into the discussion with empathy. Once you’ve done that, transition to debriefing on the critical questions and observations during the holiday and establish a shared understanding of the parent's current needs, health condition, and preferences.
To prepare for your meeting, here is a suggestion of an agenda that can help structure your discussions:
- General health observations/concerns of your Older
- Are there any healthcare decisions to be taken?
- How will the family support caregiving tasks if they are required? Are relatives able to visit? Are you looking for care options?
- Evaluating transportation options for your Older: is it still safe for your older to drive? What options will you engage as a family when the time comes (or has come) for your Older to no longer drive?
- Emotional support: how can each of you commit to supporting your Older? How are you connecting with each other to support each other as you support your Older?
- Financial responsibilities: is there a need for the family to financially support any of these care and support options? How will you share these costs? What are the obligations to continue with?
While you are meeting, encourage family members to share their insights, concerns, and available support resources. Once these are on the table, collaboratively create a plan that capitalizes on each family member's strengths and availability.
Don’t leave these commitments hanging – definitely create a timetable for implementing the caregiving plan, with agreed-upon assigned roles, milestones and regular check-ins. While you are talking, lay out and agree a communication plan that also has a plan for emergency contingency communication, ensuring that everyone is informed and engaged in the caregiving process and is accessible in case of an emergency.
You did it! You made a plan during the GOOD TIMES. That is the most important time to make these plans with the family. Give each other high fives, hugs, (even if virtual) and thank everyone for coming together to make some action plans that fully commit to supporting your Older as the care needs evolve.