Elder Care & Family Mediation
A vital resource for the aging, their families and the professionals who work with them
In late adulthood, this stage of life brings with it integrity, wisdom and can be a time of great reward for a life well spent; adversely, seniors are challenged with many developmental concerns and decisions. Quality of life at this stage is affected by and depends on one’s cognitive health, activity level, community interaction and family relationships.
During late adulthood, issues can negatively impact one’s quality of life such as selling the family home, distribution of caregiving responsibilities, wills and estates, safety and health concerns. These areas of strife usually occur between seniors and their adult children. A huge role reversal happens during this life stage where the children become the main caregivers to the aging parent which disrupts the nature and realities of the relationship. In addition, this role reversal is compounded as these “adult” children are usually raising their own children at the same time as they are trying to provide care for their aging parent(s). According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, “nearly half (47%) of adults in their forties and fifties have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older)." Decisions to be made revolving around these issues can be painful, very emotional and can sever family ties for years to come if immediate intercession is not addressed.Families can appropriately use mediation when they are willing to voluntarily participate in the process and are motivated to reach an agreement. Mediation is not an appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution when coercion, abuse or neglect is found. In cases where an elder may have cognitive impairments, the mediator will insist than an appropriate advocate be present in all conversations and participate in the decision making process.
We Assist in Resolving:
- Financial Decisions
- Inheritance Disputes
- Residence Decisions
- Medical Treatment Decisions
- Disputes among Adult Siblings
- Selling House or Other Valuable Assets
Why Choose Elder Care Mediation Over Litigation
Elder mediation provides a forum to enable families to effectively communicate in a safe, non-biased, comfortable, private and confidential setting. All family members are encouraged to share in this collaborative process to address issues, concerns and interests that are unique and important to their family situation. By utilizing mediation, family members are given the freedom to create their own solutions and are in control of the outcome which results in higher satisfaction and resolutions.
Family conflict can reach a point to where litigation has been threatened or legal proceedings have been initiated. Courts are not designed for helping families develop creative solutions to their problems nor do Judges rule on feelings or circumstances but rather on their interpretation of applicable laws. In a court setting, the creativity, control and power is taken away from family members (who ultimately know their situation best) and placed on the sole discretion of the Judge. Likewise, the emotional stress and adversarial setting of facing family members in a courtroom can destroy what is already a fragile relationship.
Families choose to mediate rather than attempt to litigate because the return on investment (ROI) is more rewarding as it preserves money, saves time and improves relationships. Mediation is less costly than paying retainer fees, attorney costs and court fees. The brief time it takes to attend mediation does not compare to the duration it can take for cases to be heard in court which contributes to having more financial and emotional stress. Quality of life can be improved due to the plethora of options that can be created in these family meetings rather than relying on the strict black and white laws that are only provided in the courtroom. Family relationships are cultivated and enhanced because all parties have the capacity to “win” as they are able to share their feelings, struggles and concerns while offering solutions to address the problems. In court, relationships can be severed because no one is guaranteed a win. Even when judgements are ruled in one’s favor… the “winner” never really triumphs. The family members ROI is more rewarding than court because successful systems of communication and collaboration are developed which results in the family being able to work together to effectively address future decisions.
The underlying interests and issues that come with aging parents are as varied as the number of families seeking help. What is consistent among the families is their need to resolve the financial, legal and medical decisions. It is understandable why people avoid the issues being disagreed on or ignored. However, avoiding the issues usually results in procrastination, having less options, less money and more emotional turmoil.
Early intercession is best when confronting any conflict. Elder and family mediation should not be used as a “last resort” but quickly acted upon at the beginning of the conflict as it will allow for time for education, discovery of feelings, to process options and research.
So when this major life transition is approaching or at hand, a trained neutral third party is beneficial to assisting with the family discussions that need to take place. Elder mediators are aware of the stress and challenges faced by children and their aging parents during the transition. In these family meetings, an effective mediator can address family dynamics in a calm and peaceful manner and help create an atmosphere where fruitful decisions can be made.
It is important to note that family members are encouraged to invite professionals who are appropriately involved (geriatric managers, financial planners and lawyers) to the family meetings as their expertise and insights can be very helpful in addressing the famiy’s rights, obligations, demands and commitments.