Elder Family Mediation
When a parents’ health begins to fail or they can’t do the things they used to, all family members are affected. Each child may have a different idea as to what is in that parents best interest. One child may be more involved in the day to day care and health care decisions while another may be more aware of finances. There may be another child who is really not involved at all. The elder may have very strong opinions about how and where they want to continue to live and may not have a realistic idea of their limitations. When it comes time to make a decision, all these varying opinions and emotions among the parents and adult siblings can cause contentious discussions and hurt feelings.
How a Trained Mediator May Help.
A neutral mediator trained in conflict resolution, family dynamics and elder issues can meet with the adult siblings and parent to sort out the complex disagreements and unresolved issues relating to the parent or parents. The mediator works with all the family members to defuse the current conflict and focus the family on their common goal – the best possible result for the parent they are all concerned about and the resolution of the family conflict.
Often adult siblings may be dispersed and at great distance from each other and their parents. The way they communicate can be at the center of the conflict. Without an agreed upon schedule and plan, some siblings may feel that they are not getting the appropriate information about their parent while others may feel that their input has not been considered.
The family home and possessions are emotion laden to all involved. Preserving the family relationships is of utmost importance to all. Addressing these difficult emotional issues can cause conflict to arise without the family members really understanding why. Conflicts that occurred when siblings were children can continue to drive how they interact with their brother or sister.
Managing Difficult Conversations and Decisions.
Elder Family Mediation helps families cope with the difficult conversations and decisions that need to be made when a parents’ future living arrangements need to be addressed. As parents live longer and in better health, these situations are becoming more frequent. With the increased diagnoses of Alzheimer’s and dementia, the ability of some elders to remain living on their own is being compromised.
Examples where families have decisions to make and conflicts may result are:
- Independence and safety – driving for example;
- Living arrangements – the family home, assisted living communities or living with a child;
- Financial decisions – who controls the money and how decisions are made, fairly dividing the assets and the responsibilities;
- Family heirlooms and possessions;
- Estate planning issues if they haven’t been previously addressed