Elder Care Mediation Series, Part 2: An Example

 A Certified Elder Care Mediation Specialist Explains Why Mediation Can Help Families in Dealing with An Parent in Need of Elder Care 

Growing up siblings, Abby, Bonnie and Carolyn Olsen, were always close, but after their father died unexpectedly they found their relationship strained.

They did not know what to do for their 80-year-old mother, Lucille. When the sisters were unable to find an assisted-living home nearby, they decided that their mother would move in with Abby’s family.

  • This arrangement led to a lot of common questions, such as:
  • How much respite should my sisters offer Abby?
  • Should their Mom’s name stay on the deed of the house?
  • Where will Mom go if I can’t keep taking care of her?
  • What, if any, should Abby receive for compensation for her effort?
  • What do we all feel comfortable with?

 Such discussions inevitably lead to discord. I often hear, “every conversation we have now ends with someone crying or hanging up, or both.”

Navigating such issues alone can be difficult and can lead to irreparable harm to the relationship of the family when dealing with elder care issues.

Elder care mediation is often a great way to help family members learn how to stay in each other’s life and not have it be destructive. A full legal action can be the point of no return. Whereas, elder care mediation can offer the family a chance to discuss their concerns, issues, hopes in a save and neutral setting.

You don’t need me to tell you that sibling relationships are very complicated and can become even more fraught when dealing with aging or infirm parents. All sorts of issues that can test even the best relationships arise, including differences of opinion on housing, caregiving, medical treatment, estate planning and end-of-life care. One sibling often feels as if he or she is taking on more responsibility than the others.

The most common complaint we hear is ‘Why aren’t my siblings helping me?’” Conflict may also result from issues such as “the amount of care, or money, or who should be making decisions, or just deep-rooted sibling rivalry over who does Mom or Dad love best.”

Unlike traditional psychotherapy, which can take years to unearth entrenched problems, mediation is more focused on the present. The mediator does not advocate the viewpoint of any one person; rather, he or she acts as an impartial third party, helping resolve conflicts in ways that are acceptable to everyone.

As a Minnesota elder care mediator, my role is to help the family make decisions they can all live with while attempting to reduce the tension between the participants.

Contact our Certified Elder Care Mediator now to help your family.