Checklist 1a

Print This List

The Family Meeting Checklist

My brothers and I didn’t really start employing the family meeting process in earnest until after our father died suddenly of a heart attack, at age 76. Our Mom was close to ten years younger, seemingly in good health and capable of driving, writing, reading, cooking, and caring for herself.  So our initial family meeting focus was on regularly talking with her to make sure she was in good shape financially—such as helping decipher her husband’s life insurance policies—and encouraging her network of family, neighbors and friends to stay in touch while she lived alone.

One of our first decisions in evaluating Mom’s health care was to switch her primary medical care to a “concierge practice,” a private medical network that we believed would provide more personalized, in-depth care and availability for a set annual retainer.  We wanted to make sure Mom was guaranteed at least quarterly exams with physicians who were nearby and weren’t overwhelmed with a plethora of patients. These were generally in-office appointments but could have involved home visitation as well, if necessary.

We soon realized, however, that as Mom’s situation changed with age, so would our family meetings. Yours will, too.

Here is a short list of suggested topics to help keep your early meetings focused. Whether you’re a planning to care for a spouse, a parent, another relative or friend, here is a list of things to consider. Yes, the list is short, but the topics can be formidable.

Health conditions. Some older people say they don’t want to be “a burden on my kids,” but it’s better for both sides to have a realistic picture of a loved ones’ health and avoid any surprises.

financial resources and Retirement plans. 

Every aging couple has their own version of “retirementality,” their view of how they want to live during their later years. It’s important to share your plan with family caregivers. (For more discussion, see “What’s our Loved Ones’ ‘Retirementality’?” )

Lifestyle and Housing Preferences. Housing is one of the most critical factors in ensuring safe and successful aging—and as you think ahead, contemplating changing needs over the years.

Healthcare wishes. If your loved ones are unable to manage their financial and personal affairs at some point, they need to assign roles for their adult children and others to step in to serve as their representatives.