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Soaring Through a Family Meeting

By Jean Wise

(Page 3 of 3)
 

R = Recognize

Recognize the emotional factors that underlie all family meetings. These meetings can be a powder keg waiting to explode. Remember family members will be at different places emotionally. One may have territorial feelings. “I am the daughter, I have to do everything!”Some may feel frightened or uncomfortable at the prospect of caring for a sick person.

Respect the other person’s right to express feelings, even to say no. If the tension becomes too great, bring in a third party, such as the social worker or a minister, to facilitate the discussion.

Acceptance of her mother’s current condition by one of Bess’ daughters slows down decision making by her family. After consulting with Bess’ physician, this tension is eased by reminding her to “remember what the doctor recommended.”She is now better able to accept the planning.

Many difficult relationships arise out of misunderstandings and miscommunications. Using effective communication techniques diffuses the potential powder keg of disagreements. The use of “I statements” and empathetic listening are two communication skills that strengthen relationships.“I statements” focus on how the speaker is feeling and does not judge the other person. For example, the speaker says, “I feel nervous when…” instead of “You should be doing…”

Listening with empathy to each person expresses the desire to understand how the other person is feeling.“Let me listen and help me understand what you are feeling.”Many times if a person feels that he or she is heard and someone recognizes their feelings, they are willing to cooperate and help with the problem affecting his or her personal feelings.

The grieving process with all its emotional stages– anger, denial, etc., is already happening. Give people time to digest what is happening and realize that everyone is dealing with deep emotional turmoil and changing roles. Listening and forgiveness decreases the emotional impact for family members.

Family meetings are an effective means of discussing difficult topics. The stress and confusion in Bess’ family lessened after a series of meetings to clarify issues and to create a plan of action. Instead of a family falling apart due to the tension, misunderstanding, and miscommunication, a family can SOAR. SOARing creates the atmosphere for openness to discuss the full range of topics to best plan for the care of a loved one.


 

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