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Decreasing Family Conflict through Preventative Elder Decision Mediation

With senior population increasing, Elder Decision Mediation is taking a more prominent position in the world of Family Mediation.

Elder Decision Mediation can be done preventatively and when conflicts arise. Since many disputes about senior loved ones are emotionally charged, countless situations can result in serious breakdowns in communication among family members. While some families are able to discuss and work out these issues, other families benefit greatly from having a mediator step in and assist when an impasse is reached. With a calm manner, a professional mediator can facilitate difficult conversations and encourage participants to focus on the most important issues and put emotions aside.

Preventative mediation for a senior loved one can be most effective. However, such conversations are often avoided because families think making decisions about an aging parent’s care makes it more real or happen more quickly. We also elude these conversations because, frankly, change is difficult and it is easier to avoid these difficult conversations completely and hope for the best.

In truth, early agreement of issues can be applied functionally, thereby reducing the number of family rifts that result when actual crises arise. Elder care plans can reduce future-costs of delay and indecision, as well as capture broader input and buy-in from all family members when all important decision makers are included, particularly the aging family member themselves, when possible. Ultimately, an advance plan can achieve more appropriate planning outcomes.

These are heavy topics and most families need help in starting the conversation in an organized manner. For example, a discussion about living arrangements can really be broken down to a discussion about safety, finances, meal preparation, transportation and future health needs.

A mediator also knows where to take the discussion. The first or easiest solution is often not the best one. Mediators can help spend a bit more time having the difficult, more uncomfortable conversations that exploring the options, yet let the family members remain in control of the process. The mediator does not make decisions on behalf of the parties. The mediator simply listens to all sides and encourages participants to remain focused on the issues at hand with a goal of solving problems and helping family members find common ground.

Mediation can be a very empowering process by providing a platform for family members to be openly heard and have their ideas and views taken seriously. Knowing that a family meeting will be controlled, balanced and meaningful will help all participants feel more positive about attending and contributing.

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