Learn about making decisions as a family


Family members often help older adults make decisions.


Families that make decisions together tend to feel more supported and able to respect their older relatives' wishes.


Families can make decisions together in different ways. For example:

  • Family members share concerns, find information and suggest options. Then the older adult makes a decision.

  • Family members try to find an option that everyone can support. If they can't, then the older adult decides.

  • Family members try to find an option that everyone can support. If they can't, then the family goes with the option more people support.

Asking older family members about their wishes, discussing concerns and sharing information all help families to make decisions together.


The steps that families take to make decisions together include:

  • Seeing a problem or asking a question, like who will help Patricia with grocery shopping

  • Getting information, perhaps family members' schedules or if any stores deliver groceries

  • Finding different options, like Luis driving Patricia to the store once a week

  • Asking for opinions and advice, like which store is Patricia's favorite

  • Weighing the pros and cons of each option, perhaps comparing time, cost and grocery selection

  • Making a decision, like Luis will drive Patricia to the Food Basket on Thursdays

  • Afterwards, asking if it was the "right" decision, perhaps asking how it's working for both Patricia and Luis

  • Making changes if needed, perhaps switching between two stores

Looking back at past decisions can help families find options for future decisions.

Understanding what worked well before can also help families adjust to changes.


Sometimes, older adults aren't able to fully participate in decisions. Often, they can share their opinions, choose between options or make decisions about their daily life.


Even if older adults can't help make decisions, their families can consider their:

  • Values and preferences

  • Personality

  • Relationships

  • Physical and emotional condition

  • Finances and other resources

  • Past decisions