Throughout June and July, our Senior Home Companions President David Morgan shared a five-part video series with clients focusing on Family Matters and how better communication can improve relationships among aging adults and their family caregivers and companions. We’re excited to share this special encouragement series with you as well, and hope that you can take away some helpful pointers on caring for your family and aging loved ones.
“We’ve been doing this for 25 years and have learned a ton of tips from some really stellar families who have done this really well,” says Morgan when opening the video series. With first-hand knowledge from caring for thousands of families, as well as the experience of creating our Family Matters Counseling program, David Morgan and our Senior Home Companions administration have become true subject matter experts in family caregiving and communication.
Our Family Matters program seeks to use family meetings to make fruitful plans for the future of your aging loved one with intentional conversations, and Morgan’s video series offers nuggets of wisdom from this valuable counseling. Morgan also bases this series of encouraging videos on one of his favorite Patrick Lencioni books, “The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family,” which explains why families are the single most relevant, impactful and precious institutions in our society.
There are a lot of emotions that come with being a family caregiver, especially in the end-of-life stages. The families that we have seen make it through this journey most successfully are the ones who deal with their emotions and truly feel them, rather than ignoring or pushing them down. Morgan has three statements that may help you summarize how you work through the stages of grief during the end of your loved one’s life: being sad for what could’ve been, being thankful for what was, and being hopeful for what would be.
When a loved one is in need of more consistent caregiving, sometimes the burden can fall on just one family member … and that can be incredibly debilitating for that person. Whenever possible, we encourage family members to discuss active roles that will support each other when caring for an aging loved one. Roles can range from family to family, but Morgan details three main roles that many successful families take on in this situation. What we call the “air traffic control” role is someone who coordinates logistics and determines action plans. The “bookkeeper” role focuses on finances and maintaining important documents, which is a great remote option. The “Help me, Rhonda” role is often a local family member who can easily visit when things come up.
Regular family meetings can be vital to gather together roughly every six months or once a year to discuss how to support aging loved ones. To host a successful family meeting Morgan offers his five top tips: 1) Hire a facilitator, such as a financial planner or Senior Home Companions Family Matters Counselor. 2) Define the scope in order to focus on a certain topic. 3) Create ownership to make it clear how each person can prepare. 4) Honor your family’s time. 5) Have some fun by scheduling a trip or game around the meeting.
“So much of caring for loved ones is about the attitude we have while doing it, and it can be completely exhausting,” says Morgan. Guarding your thought life with discipline using these three concepts can help prevent that exhaustion from taking over. First, respecting your parents’ or spouse’s independence allows everyone to feel better about decisions being made about their life. Second, remaining consistent with visits and communication, even if it’s not as often, can make relationships feel smoother. Third, an attitude of prioritization allows caregivers to take a step back for self-care and utilize respite care options in order to offer better support for their loved ones long-term.
If you have more questions about the Family Matters video series or caring for a family member, contact Senior Home Companions today for a complimentary consultation. Supporting your family in maintaining an active and engaged life for your aging loved one is always our top priority.