It Might Be Time For Mediation

They are disputes that start quietly but brew into volcanic pressure and believe it or not they can split families apart.

Mom’s left a pot boiling on the stove again, so her daughters want her to give up her house.

An elderly father is getting forgetful and isn’t paying his monthly bills. His children who live far away find out that dad’s heat and electricity were turned off. One son wants to get his father declared mentally incompetent, so the family can take control of his finances. Dad gets angry when the kids try to help. He doesn’t want his kids to know how much money he has and how his finances are organized.

Dad’s got more scrapes on his car than the grandkids do on their knees so let’s take his car keys. The kids warn their father that they are going to take away his car keys. He threatens to write them out of his will. The father knows he isn’t driving well anymore but he just doesn’t want to give the keys up, especially to his children.

Might be time to call in a family mediator. Mediators come in as a neutral third-party to help families negotiate difficult situations and choices. With mediation, the family members, along with the parent, can usually come up with a unified solution.

Trickiest of all are the family dynamics. Unfortunately it is fairly common to hear one sibling reacting bitterly towards another. Long-established family roles can play out the minute siblings walk into mediation.

Good mediators make sure that the parents’ voice is heard… even if that person has Alzheimer’s or dementia and might have trouble following the conversation. Even with limitations on their capacity, people still have the ability to say whom and what family member they are most comfortable with…whom they respect, and trust, and where they like to live. They may not have the capability to make substantial legal or financial decisions, but they certainly have the ability to express opinions, wishes and desires.

The field of elder mediation is growing and has benefits over taking family disputes to court. Mediation provides an opportunity to come together, make decisions that tend to work as opposed to litigation that can be more expensive and more contentious. Mediation allows the ‘family’ to remain connected and feeling good about the consensus they have reached.

Although the field of ‘elder mediation’ is new and so far has little regulation, there are avenues to research:

State and community mediation centers.

Ask your local Council on Aging or Home Care Service for assistance in locating someone who has experience in this field.

And always feel free to contact us at Home Instead Senior Care….


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