Elder Care Mediation
Your family can resolve differences over decisions about the care of an elderly loved one privately and respectfully.
Aging family members can pose many challenges for those responsible for their care. A parent or other elder family member may wish to remain independent, despite impairment to the elder’s decision-making capacity and ability to handle day-to-day household tasks. This can place great strain on the family relationships and elder planning becomes necessary. If you are faced with decisions about the care and living arrangements of an elderly loved one, you know that these are some of the most difficult decisions families will ever need to make.
Making decisions with and for the aging person about health care, finances, living arrangements, and caregiving concerns can be stressful, especially where family members do not all agree on the best course of action. Families must find a way to share fairly the burdens and the resources of the family even though they may have differing perceptions of what is “fair.”
In addition to facing the aging of a relative, there are often a number of other ongoing issues at play. Often as family members age, family dynamics can become more entrenched and complicated. Conflicts that may have simmered below the surface can boil up and make family conversations very difficult. Siblings, dealing with differences in their own geographic, economic and immediate family structures, often find working together to help their aging parents to be challenging. Unfortunately, these issues can interfere with family members’ ability to make the best decision in the interest of the elderly loved one. Thoughtful decision making can seem all but impossible.
Mediation provides a tool by which families can peacefully explore all possible solutions concerning a loved one’s well-being and come to a mutually beneficial decision that satisfies everyone involved. The process is based on communication and helping the parties discuss many of the issues that need to be addressed before a decision is made. A skilled mediator allows participants to share their feelings, but ultimately ensures the negotiations stay on track and the loved one’s best interest remains at the forefront of the process. As a neutral party, the mediator does not make judgments or take sides. Rather, the mediator ensures that all concerns and ideas are respectfully aired and guides the family members through the process of making the best decisions for their particular situation. Even families who are not getting along well can, with the help of a skilled mediator, work through their issues and reach agreement.
Mediation is a helpful process for negotiating agreements about the care for an elderly loved one because:
- Mediation allows multiple participants, possibly including the elderly family member, a safe forum to voice their wishes and concerns.
- Mediation allows family members the time to investigate the best options for the loved one’s care.
- Mediation helps family members work together towards practical solutions that will meet the needs of the elderly family member, as well as the needs of the other family members.
- A mediated resolution may avoid Court involvement in the form of a guardianship or conservatorship, unless a guardianship or conservatorship is made part of the plan for specific reasons.
- By avoiding litigation, the family can conserve resources and will likely maintain better relationships going forward.
If you are facing difficult decisions about an elderly loved one or you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve issues concerning an older relative, Susan Sloane can help. Susan has been practicing law for more than 40 years and is an experienced mediator who can help you reach a respectful resolution of the issues.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
~ Nelson Mandela (South African anti-apartheid activist, prisoner of war, president)