As people age, new challenges emerge. Aging parents or other relatives may depend on their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or stepchildren for assistance. At the same time, elders wish to be respected and treated with dignity. They may yearn to maintain their independence, or stubbornly cling to tasks, activities and independent living that they are no longer capable of managing.
Although family members may share concern for their elder relatives, they may have different ideas about what is best for the elder and/or for the family. Adult children may find themselves in a role they never imagined – participating in decisions regarding their parents’ care and futures. These new responsibilities may lead to conflict among siblings or other relatives and/or between adult children and their parents.
“I have lived in this house for 30 years. It is my home and I will stay here until they carry me out!”
“My mother doesn’t drive, and now that my father is gone, she needs help. In between driving my kids everywhere, I have to fit in appointments and errands for my mother. Why doesn’t she ever ask my brother to help?”
“Dad is planning to marry this woman who has been ‘helping him’ since mom died. If he marries her, I will never speak to him again or let him see his grandchildren.”
“My dad wants to give half his estate to my unemployed brother who cares for him. I have three other siblings and do not think his plan is fair or acceptable.”
“My mother-in-law’s house needs work badly. She is afraid to waste money on repair and upkeep. My husband is over there all the time.”
At the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution, our experienced mediators assist families in working through these and other issues, including:
Mediation can assist siblings (or other relatives/caregivers) and aging parents to communicate more openly and directly, respect each person’s dignity, and ensure that each family member’s perspective is heard. The mediator may help reveal subtle issues that act as barriers to problem solving, and assist families in developing problem-solving strategies. As agreements are fashioned, communication skills improve and a foundation is laid for cooperatively addressing future dilemmas.
In a neutral, safe, and private setting, mediation provides a forum for engaging in creative problem solving, enhancing communications, and preserving family relationships.