Are you or your clients struggling with family members about the future of aging parents' care or estate?




Mediation Preserves and Restores Family Harmony:
A Real Life Story from our Practice

We received the call in early December: The caller was upset, because she couldn’t
agree with her eight siblings about how and where to find appropriate accommodations for her mother. The mother was in her eighties, had mid-stage Alzheimer’s, limited financial resources, and had to move out of her current residence by the end of the month.  We assured the caller we would be able to help, initiated phone conversations with all siblings, and found a date in the week before Christmas when six of them would be in town and willing to participate in mediation.

Most people have heard of mediation as an alternative process to settle business, workplace or divorce-related disputes. However, few are aware how helpful mediation can be when eldercare challenges demand difficult decisions, which often have to be made under time pressure and bring up strong emotions.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that offers a safe opportunity for people to talk about controversial issues, listen carefully to each others’ opinions, feelings, and needs, and work together to find solutions that address everyone’s concerns. The mediator is a neutral third party who can facilitate open and effective communication even when emotions run high. The process is also empowering, because the mediator supports the parties in finding their own creative solutions, instead of making decisions for them.

Typically parties in Elder Mediation are older adults and their spouses, adult children, or family caregivers, but neighbors, friends, or professional aging-services providers can also be involved. If the Elder is no longer able or willing to participate in the decision-making process, adult children, caregivers and/or trusted professionals and friends may also meet without the person whose care is being discussed. Issues that can effectively be addressed include Care and Transition Planning (Aging-in-Place or moving to a Senior Residence?), Health Care, Financial Planning, Powers of Attorney, Real Estate and Business decisions, and Wills and Trusts. These controversial issues may get resolved in one 3-4-hour-long session, or may require multiple sessions to reach agreements between all participants.

Mediation enjoys a high success rate: Among cases where all parties participate in mediation, about 80 % result in an agreement that everyone can live with. Although compliance is voluntary, people are more likely to implement a mutually agreed-upon solution than one that was imposed by someone else (e.g. a court).

The six siblings that participated in our pre-Christmas mediation are a good example: In a 3-hour-long meeting, they agreed on a plan on how to work together to research, visit, and decide on an affordable housing option for their mother in the two weeks before she had to move. When we checked in with them later, we heard that the move took place to everyone’s satisfaction, even though some adjustments to the plan were necessary along the way. Whenever I hear a success story like this, I feel grateful for the privilege to serve as an Elder Mediator.

You want to know more about how our services may benefit you and your family? 

You’ll find answers to all your questions about Elder Mediation on
“The Aging Boomers Radio Show” on KSVY Sonoma of 12/15/2012:

You have more questions or concerns? Contact us for a free consultation, so we can explore how we may support you and your loved ones or clients on the journey of AGING IN HARMONY.