When it comes to working together to ensure the needs of one’s aging parents are met, even the closest of family members may find themselves in conflict. Emotions and stress levels are, of course, running high. Add to that your past family history and dynamics, which commonly resurface during stressful times, and it’s easy to see how difficult this stage in life could very well be for each of you.
The most frequent areas of disagreement among siblings include financial decisions, varying opinions on medical treatments or living arrangements, and an unfair balance of tasks surrounding caregiving, just to name a few.
Sometimes, in spite of how hard you try, both you and your siblings are simply unable to reach an understanding on how to best provide care for aging parents. An impasse similar to this is actually quite common, frequently stemming from past, unresolved conflicts and challenging family dynamics. Nonetheless, there’s a remedy many families are not aware of which can be incredibly helpful: enlisting the help of an elder mediator.
A specialist trained in conflict resolution, an elder mediator brings an objective, third-party voice to family meetings. He or she can help diffuse intense emotions and outbursts and lead the discussion in ways that brings about a result which parties can accept.
Elder mediator Susanne Terry explains, “Most of the time siblings want what’s best for the parents. They just look at it in a different way. Our goal is to help them figure out what their common interests are, so they can work together to find solutions.”
Unlike family therapy, which helps families work through struggles slowly over a prolonged time period, elder mediation is a focused, condensed process that usually leads to an agreeable outcome in only a handful of sessions.
Elder mediators give siblings the opportunity to both provide input and listen respectfully to one another. The goal isn’t just to look for the best outcome for the senior parents, but to help siblings maintain healthy relationships with each other along the way.
When researching elder mediation options, there are a number of questions you should ask:
- What is your training, education, and background?
- What amount of experience do you have in our particular situation?
- Are you a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) or some other professional associations?
- Exactly what are your fees?
To identify an elder mediator in your area, visit APFM’s mediator directory. Once you and your family members agree on the most effective path forward in taking care of your aging parents, connect with Seniorcorp, providers of senior services in Norfolk, VA, and the surrounding communities. We will be delighted to provide a free in-home assessment to talk about how we can help make sure all their care needs are thoroughly met. We are available 24/7 at 757-640-0557.