Making decisions as a family can be challenging. You and your spouse may have different priorities, or you may be coping with difficult situations, such as finding a caregiver for an aging parent with dementia or other medical needs.
No matter how large or small the decision is, you and your spouse or family members may not agree on how to handle the situation. Some options could create financial issues, which could make it even harder to agree. Using these tips can help you simplify the decision-making process and find a solution you’re both comfortable with.
1. Open Communication
It will be easier to identify issues and reach decisions if you foster open communication in your family. You can do this by consciously adopting a judgment-free communication policy. You might opt to see a social worker or family therapist who can help you develop this practice and break bad habits to avoid responding defensively to issues that arise.
If your spouse, parent, sibling, or child fears that you’ll criticize their behavior or get defensive if they criticize something you’ve done, they’ll be less likely to communicate openly with you. This can cause tension and discomfort within your family. It may also prevent family members from sharing relevant additional information about a situation that could impact the decision-making process. Fostering open communication will ensure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions as a family.
2. Being Thorough and Respectful
Don’t make a habit of putting off decisions until the last minute, and avoid making decisions without all the relevant facts. If you make decisions based on only part of the relevant information, you’ll probably have to revisit those choices. You could even compound problems and regret your major life decisions after the fact.
It’s important to remember that different family members have distinct needs. Respecting and expressing empathy for what each family member wants and prefers can help you find the best way to address issues that arise.
For example, if you or your partner has a parent who is a senior with health issues, you may opt to have them move into your home to avoid paying for a caregiver. Living with family members could also improve a senior’s quality of life by providing social interaction. Your willingness to have family members live with you could be tested, however, if it creates a financial issue. If the older adult turns up the heat and increases your energy bills, you may be frustrated by the unexpected costs of care. You might be able to compromise by purchasing women’s ponchos to help keep them warm without incurring increased electricity costs to raise the temperature throughout your whole house. Ponchos are a simple solution addressing your needs and the needs of the senior residing with you. You can further reduce costs by shopping for necessities on clearance.
3. Being Realistic
Older adults are more likely to be affected by severe health issues, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and high blood pressure. Seniors have unique legal and medical needs, including planning for their end of life care, funeral, and distribution of their estate. Seniors should ensure they have a will, an advance directive, and document their final wishes to ensure their funeral adheres to their preferences.
As adult children, you need to make sure that you discuss these issues with loved ones, no matter how uncomfortable it is, and help them navigate the planning process. It can be challenging to discuss financial issues with family members, but realistically addressing their financial needs can ensure they can focus on enjoying the time they have instead of worrying about paying bills. Seniors with terminal illnesses or chronic health conditions may also be eligible to sell their life insurance policy to pay for doctor’s visits, medications or other related issues. A viatical settlement can provide them with cash to cover medical and personal expenses, and the money is tax-free.
An advance directive is a legal document that outlines their decisions about medical care. Your family member may not want to remain on life support if they slip into a coma, and an advance directive can ensure their wishes are respected. You can also prevent conflict with other family members with a legal document. Families may also disagree about how to divide a loved one’s estate after they pass. You can prevent conflict by ensuring each family member has a will.
Families face numerous decisions, including complex choices about caring for older family members and addressing financial challenges. Open, non-judgmental communication will ensure you’re aware of issues and have all the information needed to make the best decision possible. Respecting all family members’ needs and being realistic about potential future needs will also ensure you’re prepared to help aging or ill family members make critical decisions.