Family & Elder Mediation: A good option for families facing difficult decisions.

Sometimes families are faced with issues that even carefully drafted estate planning documents can’t solve. Relationships are often strained when family members don’t agree about living arrangements or financial matters or health care choices for their loved ones.

It is common for grown children to live a great distance from their parents. The details about how the parents are managing their lives can be sketchy, especially if one only hears news directly from their parents. Pride sometimes interferes with reality. Most adults want to remain independent for as long as possible and may not share important information with children if they feel it will result in an unpleasant outcome.

In many families, one sibling may be near the parents and provide a large amount of care and attention. The out-of-town siblings may feel helpless or even guilty. Sometimes when the burden is unequal, emotions run high and the potential for conflict is increased. One option for addressing differences of opinion is called Family Mediation, or Elder Mediation.

Negotiating Long Term Care Choices

Family mediation is a process where the parties involved meet for an agreed upon length of time with a mediator who is prepared to listen in a neutral fashion and help the family members make important decisions.  The goal is that everyone’s issues and concerns are aired and addressed and that any decisions made are reached by consensus. Elder Mediation is a specific Family Mediation practice wherein a mediator helps facilitate conversations about things like Long Term Care between a senior citizen and their children or other relatives.

Issues That May Be Discussed

Family members choose the topics to be addressed.  Some common issues include:

  • Living Arrangements
    • Regular calls and visits by family members
    • Outside help for at-home care
    • Adult day care
    • Assisted living
    • Nursing home care
  • Safety and Well Being
    • Nutrition
    • Health care
    • Driving
    • Home maintenance and repairs
  • Relationship Issues
    • Sharing responsibilities among family members
    • Identify who will make various decisions
    • Identify trusted advisors (legal, financial, medical, pastoral/spiritual)
    • Inheritance issues

Is Elder Mediation Right for Your Family?

Not all families will need to look to an outside mediator to help them make important decisions.  Family dynamics as well as the physical location of family members make some situations easier to solve than others.  When family members are not in close proximity it is harder to have the ongoing substantive conversations that delicate situations require.  Using an objective third party helps guarantee that all issues will be raised and addressed in a timely fashion.

Mediators come from a variety of backgrounds, but share the belief that the rights and the dignity of elders should be protected.  Practitioners include social workers, attorneys and professional mediators who have experience or specialize in family and elder care matters.  Mediators usually charge by the hour.  All participants will have agreed to the process in advance and certain trusted advisors might be invited to participate if their input would be helpful.

What Results Can You Expect?

Probably the most beneficial outcome of elder mediation is that it can help mend fractured relationships.  Everyone who is invited gets a chance to raise his or her own concerns.  Everyone’s ideas are treated with respect.  The love and concern everyone feels for the parents is displayed and any old hostilities or animosity are dealt with in an open and honest manner.  The most desirable outcome of family mediation is a game plan with short, mid and long-term options that everyone agrees to implement.  The happiest participants are usually the parents who are pleased to see their children cooperating on their behalf.

If you live in Michigan and need experienced estate planning help, contact Michael Einheuser for a free consultation. Michael helps families in Bingham FarmsTroyFarmington HillsRochester HillsSouthfieldWest Bloomfield TownshipBloomfield Township, and the surrounding Michigan areas.

Schedule your Free Consultation today: (248) 398-4665.

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