Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Family Involvement

• Families are often central to the lives of older adults.
• Families are defined broadly as whomever the older adult considers as someone close in the circumstances, who they trust and feel is “like family”.
• In some cases the older adult may want family to actively participate with information sharing, decision-making, or in the case of substitute decision makers, to speak on their behalf.
• Family involvement is also often complex (e.g., conflicting perspectives, unsupportive or strained family dynamics).
• In some situations, family members may be abusing or neglecting the older adult, controlling the situation or speaking for the older adult without the authority to do so.
• Nurses and other health-care providers should maintain a therapeutic relationship with the older adult, be aware of immediate safety for the older adult (or themselves), and in some cases, involve other members of the interprofessional team to help support the older adult and family.
• Nurses and other health-care providers should know the law with regards to decision-making authority (e.g., if there is a hierarchy of substitute decision makers in their province or territory for mentally incapable adults).

Older Adults
Preventing and Addressing Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults: Person-Centred, Collaborative, System-Wide Approaches
Point of Care Resources