Page 9 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - June 2019 - 26-06
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Senior Times - June 2019 Mediation: A Care Plan
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Solution For Struggling Siblings
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
Siblings may struggle to care for aging parents as a team. For some siblings, working together to care for aging parents can be difficult or seem nearly impossible. Being honest is
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a start and one reality to consider is that old rivalries can flare up during discussions and prevent progress when important and difficult caregiving decisions must be made. Emotions
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and past issues can get in the way of making practical care decisions and end-of-life plans. These deep-seated conflicts make life unpleasant for everyone involved. And when a parent is ailing and may have limited time left, it becomes even more necessary to resolve these disagreements.
about who Mom liked best, different opinions on housing or medical treat- ments, who has taken on the most responsibility, or why some siblings aren’t doing their fair share of work.
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One solution is to hire an elder mediator. Elder mediation does cost money, but it may be well worth it if it helps your family agree on a course of action and work together to care for your older adult. Sometimes, having an unbiased third party involved is
the only way to reach a decision when siblings have been getting nowhere trying to talk to (or yell at) each other for weeks, months, or even years. A mediator can help when conversations are further challenged by sharing tasks when one sibling does not live nearby.
• Another issue is that each sibling may think their solution is the only “right” solution.
Elder mediation helps adult children get on the same page, to resolve conflicts and to find solu- tions that everyone can accept no matter how near or far away they live.
An elder mediator is a professional who is trained in conflict resolution. Sometimes they’re also attorneys or therapists. They meet with adult sib- lings and their parents (if they’re able) to help the family sort out unresolved issues relating to Mom and Dad. The mediator works to defuse the situation and keep everyone focused on the common goal – agreeing on the best possible outcome for their parent and to preserve family relationships.
or injury.
• Everyone gets to talk and prob- lem-solve to reach an agreement.
• Background, education, and training. • Experience or knowledge in
• In some situations, an elder law attorney, financial planner, hired caregiver, or geriatric care manag- er may also attend to provide their expertise.
mediating the type of case you have. • How much they charge and how the
What causes siblings to argue and disagree about caregiving?
• Almost 40% of adult children who
professional associations.
• Use the APFM’s search tool to find
cared for a parent said they had
For more information visit the Academy of Professional Family Mediators at
Heartland Health Care Center – Battle Creek
major conflict with a sibling.
• These conflicts can come from dis-
agreements about money, old debates
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“Most of the time siblings want what’s best for the parents. They just look at it in a different way,” said Susanne Terry, an elder mediator. “Our goal is to help them figure out what their common interests are, so they can work together to find solutions.”
Elder mediation isn’t like therapy or counseling, where you discuss and work out deep problems for months or years. Mediation is more focused on what needs to be done right now. The mediator helps keep the conversation moving and makes sure everyone gets heard. Typically, families only need a few sessions.
How long does mediation take?
“I help them make family decisions they can all live with,” says Janet Mitchell, a lawyer and mediator. “I help to bring out their better selves
so they can focus on the parent or the continuation of the family.”
How to find an elder mediator.
The Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) recommends that you approach hiring a mediator like you would any other professional like a lawyer, care manager, or financial planner.
Generally, you should ask about the mediator’s:
fees are typically divided among
• Membership in APFM and other
a mediator in your area at https://
or injury.

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