Can’t we all just get along?
I see it more and more and it really saddens me: families unable to “get along” when it comes to decision making for elder loved ones. It can be as simple as whether Mom and/or Dad need to meet with an Elder Law Attorney, to concerns over finances and inheritance issues, to whether siblings agree on who should serve as primary caregiver, and/or to whether assisted living/nursing home care is necessary.
Often as family members age, family dynamics can become more complicated. Conflicts that have simmered below the surface can boil up and make conversation impossible. Sometimes the elders are involved in the discussions, but unfortuntately sometime they are too far gone to meaningfully participate.
Either way, even the most harmonized family can sometimes hit a bad note or two and require some assistance.
(Dun, dun, dun, dun!) Enter the Elder Mediator. Mediation provides an opportunity for the Elder and all concerned members of the family to participate in creating a thoughtful plan for future. In most cases Elder Law Attorneys can act as Elder Mediators with certain issues. However the scope of the disagreements can often rest in other issues that are not related to the elder law topic. An Elder Mediator, working closely with your Elder Law Attorney, is trained to assist families in identifying the real issues, separating them from the crucial issues of planning for elder care, and developing the best plan of care.
National Public Radio has recognized the usefulness of elder mediation for families dealing with aging issues.
As baby boomers age and options for their care increase, we will all face many difficult choices concerning how we handle transitions during our elders’ declining years. Families will have to be able to evaluate resources, options and develop flexible strategies to support their elders. Even when not legally competent to make decisions, it is important to include an elder’s wishes and expressed preferences when putting a plan into place. Elder mediation is a rational first step for families to help them address their changing needs while enhancing problem solving/communications skills and avoiding messy litigation.