Most of us have heard of mediation in divorce and sometimes even child custody cases, but what about elder care? Is there a place for mediation in elder care? You might be surprised. Mediation is being used to resolve conflicts with our elderly loved ones in a number of situations. It can be an effective way to find solutions between older people, their families and caregivers.
There are a number of person-centered programs that specialize in the unique needs of families with elderly loved ones. The goal is to include the older person’s voice, his wants, needs and unique situation in order to find a resolution, regardless of the disagreement.
Many of these new programs are still in trials; however, there are some preliminary findings that suggest these programs are ideal for preserving family relationships, improving communication and reducing decision-making stress for all parties.
As estate planning lawyers, we know how important the right decisions are for our older loved ones. One wrong decision can make a big decision – and one that has serious consequences – in our respective families.
There are challenges, though. There are powers of attorney that may already be in place that could prove to be problematic between family members. A loved one’s needs or wants may have changed, but they feel as though they no longer have a voice.
The National Care Plan Council says families have found success when dealing with issues such as distribution of caregiving responsibilities between family members, safety concerns, financial considerations and even the selling of the family home. The ultimate goal, of course, is to find a solution that everyone can live with.
The key, they explain, is early intervention and proper long term estate planning. From healthcare proxies to housing choices to trusts and wills, the sooner these foundations are put into place, the better success families find since those decisions were likely made when Mom or Dad was in better health. The decisions are then less likely to be questioned now that they’ve grown older and may face other health problems. Anytime conflicts are minimized, the better.
The process of mediation allows families to develop creative solutions to challenges in a way that the courts cannot. Mediation is both affordable and efficient with rarely, if ever, long-drawn-out proceedings followed by potential appeals and more proceedings…all the while damaging the family, upsetting the senior, and draining finances. Having a plan in place doesn’t necessarily mean a “set in stone” long term solution. Lives change and the needs of our elder family members change as well.
Assets and inheritances change as well and the fewer surprises, the better. More importantly, this type of mediation can help keep families together, especially during difficult times. When the proverbial cards are on the table, the greater the odds of serious rifts being created later.
If you’d like to learn more about estate planning and why sooner is better, contact our team of estate planning lawyers today. We stand ready to help you and your family put that foundation into place so that your elderly loved one isn’t worrying about what tomorrow brings.
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