When it comes to families and mediation, you may first think of divorce mediation. Mediation is used to resolve a wide variety of conflict however, and one particular area continues to grow alongside our elderly population.
Certainly it would be nice if family members always agreed on important issues, but that is not always the case. Family members experiencing disagreement or otherwise needing assistance to solve challenges related to an aging parent are commonplace.
Although you may not be able to avoid the complicated dynamics of such a situation, family members can decide how they work through these issues. Wading into a high-conflict battle with our siblings and/or other family members is not something most of us look forward to, but just what are your options?
Considerations for Family Members
Common issues for family members to consider include:
- Financial needs and costs related to caring for the family member
- Medical treatment decisions
- Decisions regarding a family member’s property, whether real estate, a car, etc.
With all of these issues swirling around, it can be challenging for an older family member’s needs to remain at the forefront of conversations, and for family members to focus on what is best for an aging parent.
When a loved-one does pass away, a host of other decisions and emotions remain, including those related to the person’s estate and the related probate issues. All of these considerations can engender overwhelming conflict among the adult siblings or “adult children” and unresolved issues between siblings complicate an already sad and stressful time.
Role of the Elder / Adult Family Mediator
The role of the elder/adult family mediator is to encourage stakeholders to participate in decision-making to ensure that family members and the elder discuss the issues at hand in a productive environment guided by a trained professional mediator.
In our complex world, families can be a source of support and sustenance, and a positive source of energy for the elder – but families can also generate challenges, such as anger and resentment that may snowball and become more difficult if not addressed in a healthy way.
Benefits of Working with an Elder and Adult-Family Mediator in Massachusetts
The elder/adult family mediator uses various techniques to minimize strife, miscommunication, and negative emotions by working with families to develop collaborative communication and problem solving. The mediator will also take into consideration the needs and wishes of the elder and what is in the elder’s best interest. The elder/adult family mediator works to alleviate stressful home environments. They also work to mend difficult relationships and foster boundaries and balance to improve family dynamics, including communications.
Hopefully, the meditation process keeps the family out of what might become an adversarial situation which could ultimately affect the mental, emotional, financial and sometimes physical well-being of all involved family members, particularly the elder member whose life will be affected the most.
Another benefit of adult/elder family mediation is that mediation sessions may be completed in person or remotely (or a combination of both) with family members participating through simple web-based video conferencing applications such as Skype. Today, family members may be scattered in different geographic areas, and getting everyone to agree on a time and place for a mediation session can be challenging, thus the remote option is a significant benefit.
Whether you live in the Westwood or Walpole area or on Cape Cod, geography should not stop you and your family from considering the benefits of elder and adult family mediation.
Find the Right Mediator Today
When selecting a mediator to work with, families should select an experienced mediator trained and certified in dealing with bringing about a workable resolution, particularly with issues affecting the growing elderly population. Contact Next Phase Legal to talk about our mediation services.
By Joan Canavan and Stephen McDonough. Joan and Stephen are both certified mediators and attorneys with Next Phase Legal, located in Medfield, MA.