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Family Mediation: Resolving Differences Regarding Senior Loved Ones’ Care

Family Mediation: Resolving Differences Regarding Senior Loved Ones’ Care

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Family differences abound. Usually we can work them out but some are tough to resolve.

Many families find themselves at odds about how to care for their aging loved ones, something that’s likely to grow as the population of the US continues to age.

The hardest times seem to come when care needs or location changes and at the end of life. Decisions such as what to do about healthcare goals and financial assets can come at us fast and furious. Siblings and other close family members who disagree about how to answer these questions may need help to keep the peace while making tough choices.

Mediation to the Rescue

Business impasses are often resolved through mediation. The same can be true for differences between family members.

What is an Elder Care Mediator?  An elder care mediator is someone who reconciles disputes between differing parties, specializing in elder affairs. A mediator is a neutral third party giving voice to all participants.

It has been estimated that as many as 40% of adult family caregivers have serious conflicts about the care of their parents.

Mediation for family members is done outside of a courtroom setting and without an attorney. The mediator doesn’t make the decisions needing to be made but rather works together with the family members so that collaboratively an agreement can be reached that is acceptable to all involved.

Topics for family mediation can include end of life decisions, finances, caregiving responsibilities, living arrangements, healthcare decisions and wills to name a few.

There is often a fee for this type of service, as with most services performed by professionals, but it may be better in the long run to seek out a specialist instead of going to court or causing family rifts that can never be repaired.

The elder family member whose care is at issue should be involved in the mediation; they should have a voice in the decision and be given the opportunity to share their desires.

Mediation is Discussion Among Family Members

Open, respectful and honest discussion can help family members understand each others’ viewpoints. Adult siblings may not be used to having to work together but it is important for all involved to think of the desires, wishes and needs of the elder involved first — putting aside individual ideas.  A mediator can help bring all the parties to the table and be a conduit for open communication.

Be aware that mediation is typically not binding, unless agreed by all involved, especially in the eyes of the law. Sometimes the disagreements are really buried hurt feelings that have erupted in the family unit when pressures of caring for and about aging family members become overwhelming.

Healthy conversations about caregiving issues will make it easier to reach resolutions for the best quality of life for our seniors and for their family caregivers.

Help in the form of an elder care mediator can help put conflict into perspective for the best care of your senior.

Have you used a mediator? Are you a mediator yourself? We would love for you to share your story with our community.

2 Responses to Family Mediation: Resolving Differences Regarding Senior Loved Ones’ Care

  1. RE:Family Mediation: Resolving Differences Regarding Senior Loved Ones’ Care
    As a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)and Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist (CPRES) I’ve worked with many families who are struggling to manage their senior members with as little conflict as possible and sometimes its a huge challenge. With that in mind I just finished a training course with Pepperdine University on Mediation and Conflict Resolution in order to better assist my clients with this dilemma. Although I’ve found I have been employing these techniques to resolve differences I now feel that I have a better command of identifying the methods people use to stonewall or manipulate. It’s a struggle but if people come to the table with a willingness to cooperate to resolve the issues they will be more inclined to own the result which is better for all involved. My heart goes out to those who are the primary caregivers as they take most of the burden off other family members and suffer the brunt of unsolicited advice.

    • Thanks Beth for your expertise. What a great idea –> coming to the table with a willingness to cooperate! Wish everyone could see the beauty in that advice. Good luck and thank you for sharing!

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