Those of us that visit assisted living facilities and nursing homes on a regular basis hear heartbreaking stories about families feuding over money and control of their elder parents. These feuds often started long before their parents left their homes and needed more help. Many could have been easily resolved with a little advance planning and an earlier family meeting.
Unfortunately, most families don’t respond until there is a crisis. Making difficult decisions during a crisis can be a stressful process and lead to disagreements, conflict and even expensive court proceedings. As families age, the dynamics often become more complicated . Old conflicts can make collaboration and communication even more difficult. Geographic distance, differing economic means and concerns for immediate families can add to the challenges.
An elder mediator is a neutral, who does not offer advice but facilitates solutions that will work for the family as a whole. He will also know the professionals available to assist with some of the difficult decisions. The issues may be as complicated as a dispute over the administration of a trust or whether to sell the family home, or as simple as a choice between two assisted living facilities.
With the mediator’s help, family members can share information, explore and evaluate options, and develop workable solutions through a process that promotes open and positive communication.