Immediately Setting the Stage
Set the right tone by focusing on your loved one first – ask them how they feel things are going in their residence, what is most important to them, if they have any worries, fears or frustrations.
Then, share your concerns, along with those of any family members who have joined you. For example, you might help a sibling get started by expressing how you know they care:
“We know how much you love and worry about Dad; what are your concerns?”
Or, you might say: “We know you are independent, Dad, and we want you to stay that way. What can we do to make sure that you’re safe and all your needs are met?”
Include concrete examples so your loved one understands your concern.
For example, “It makes sense that you feel tired after a day of preparing things all by yourself. We want to get you some support so you can continue to live independently and enjoy yourself more”.
The Main Event
Keep a calm conversation going by frequently asking clarifying questions.
For example, “I want to check that I’m hearing you properly. You said you felt ___.” It’s also important to acknowledge if you didn’t know how a loved one was feeling: “I didn’t realize you were feeling that way about ___.”
Remind your family members to ask questions.
Keep returning to the topic at hand if family members divert the conversation. Continue to focus on your loved one and state your concerns and requests clearly.
Offer your recommendations in a conversational, open manner, so that your loved one and family members understand that it is an open discussion. If there is more than one solution, each option can be explored.
Your loved one might not be happy with the suggestions you or your family members make. Remember that you are focused on your loved one and their goals and values.
It’s ok for your loved one to disagree with suggestions, and you don’t need to respond to every comment. Take a moment and then patiently continue. Note that sometimes a ‘no’ is a knee-jerk first response. If there’s continued resistance, try to find a compromise that benefits everyone, so that no one feels marginalized.
Should a family member become emotional, give them a moment and comfort them.
It’s good to acknowledge everyone’s feelings by stating that it’s a hard situation and tough decisions are being made – so it’s normal for people to feel on edge.
It’s possible that another meeting may be needed to achieve the best results. This allows your loved one and family members to have more time to think about the options and do their own research.
At the end of the meeting, thank your family members for joining you and try to end the meeting on a positive note if possible. Ask your family members to share a funny family story – and be ready with one of your own.
Share a final message of support for your loved one,
“We love you Dad and we’re here for you always.”