Elder Mediation Services

The pain and stress of dealing with a loved one with a long-term illness can lead to tension. This tension also arises after the loved one passes away and the family has to deal with inheritance issues. Cordial relationships between family members often become strained. In fact, animosity can result – sometimes causing a break in long-time associations and substituting animosity instead of fraternal camaraderie.
One solution is “elder mediation.” This is a new tool to help families heal broken relations, solve difficult issues arising from dealing with elderly parents or prevent misunderstandings or problems from happening in the first place.
In the context of dispute resolution mediation has been around for a long time. However, it only recently has been applied to helping to solve problems with the elderly. Thus, the term “elder mediation” is not commonly known, but nevertheless, it is still very important. To illustrate, mediation has become common in recent years in the area of “family mediation.” Such family mediators typically handle negotiations and disagreements in domestic relations cases involving divorce, child custody and parenting time, juvenile cases or the settlement of estate plans. The tensions that arise from families caring for aging parents also provide an area where mediators can truly help.
What is a mediator? It is a neutral third party who generally is not related to those involved in the dispute or disagreement. This person is often an elder law attorney or a social worker skilled at working with seniors. The disputing parties come together with the mediator to discuss their differences and to try to work out a compromise. The mediator tries to pinpoint the issue that is causing the disagreement and tries to facilitate communication between the parties. Ultimately a written agreement is the goal, a contract that all parties accept as workable (although perhaps not ideal).
Mediators often find that communication is the key to dispute resolution. Some families are not in the habit of communicating. Even though they grew up together, they are not used to sitting down to talk about and resolve problems. However, the mediator guides them in the goal of communication and helps by identifying the points of controversy and providing suggested solutions.
Conversely, not all situations require the help of a mediator. Some families remain in close contact through frequent visits, phone calls and the internet. Still, these types of families need to learn to recognize potential relationship problems when dealing with aging loved ones. When a problem is recognized, they need to make an immediate effort to resolve the problem before it escalates into tension, suspicion and mistrust. If they are successful they can preserve the family bonds and avoid the need for a mediator. Otherwise, mediation may be the only good option.
In sum, those who advise family members – such as attorneys, care providers, financial planners or advisors should be aware that potential disagreements can develop into bigger problems. These advisers should be quick to recommend to the family member who is their client to get the family together and work out the disagreement before it becomes a major problem. If the client is not willing to do this then the advisor would be wise to recommend a competent elder mediator.

Contact us today to receive a free strategy session with an experienced elder law attorney.