Knowledge Base

How Mediation Provides Solutions
        for Seniors and Their Families


April 1, 2005
Written by CMDR Staff

How Mediation Provides Solutions for Seniors and Their Families.
Becoming the caretaker of aging parents is in itself a daunting task. Yet quite aside from the day-to-day mechanics of care, the queasy, strange feeling of parenting the parent, there are the logistical and emotional issues of having to maneuver through the minefields of siblings, spouses of siblings, and even children of siblings. The interlocking of the generations is not a feat for the faint of heart.

Mediation provides help to families and the elder or elderly in variety of ways. On one level, adult children and their siblings can mediate to resolve issues around the placement of aging parents in elder care facilities. For these family members, mediation offers a route for solving the unsolvable

“Mary wants Dad in a nursing home,” “Joe wants to hire a caretaker to live with Dad,” and “Alice thinks Dad would do just fine, if he could live with her in an addition to her house built especially for him.”

Mediation may play a role in trusts and estate planning, when aging parents not only need to be heard, but also need to listen to the concerns of their children. Frequently, elder care attorneys working with the elderly and their families will recommend mediation to resolve disputes.

Mediation may also be initiated once a parent is placed in an assisted living or nursing home facility. Many nursing homes contract mediators to work at their sites. On-site mediation can address conflicts between patients and staff, disputes among family members relating to visitation, addressing health concerns and speaking with physicians. There may be mediators available at the facility to help family members work through how to address failing health issues, possible conflicts between the patients, their families and staff members at the facility.

The strength of mediation lies in its problem-solving, practical approach to the issues at hand. Sometimes family dynamics keep us from exploring different possibilities. We tune out each other’s words, thinking that we already know the answers. We overlook feelings focusing only on a static position. Guided by a skillful mediator, the mediation process enables us to better understand and listen to what our family members are saying. Ultimately family members can set aside their differences and focus on fashioning solutions that preserve the dignity of their parents.

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