Elder Decisions in Elder Mediation
Content taken from Mediate.com and edited by Papa & Roberts, PLLC
When does any elderly person make the decision to move out of his/her home that's been the center of a person's life for decades? How does an elderly married couple plan financially for an unknown period of time in the future? In what ways is help needed with daily activities that have been done independently for a lifetime? These are some of the questions our elderly and their families' address in senior mediation.
Growing old is a transition that poses emotional, physical, legal and financial challenges for individuals, their loved ones and professionals. Meeting these challenges can put a tremendous strain on all, as they try to plan for, adapt and accept these changes. It is not surprising that families frequently avoid making decisions when they are faced with disagreements and/or lack of information. Unfortunately, to put off these important decisions can result in significant financial and emotional costs.
Elder mediation brings loved ones and professionals together to address the major changes in this aging process. As in divorce, families need to make legal, financial, and emotional decisions in order for the transition to work. Coping through the senior years requires addressing questions such as: What type of trust should I create? How should money be allocated? Who should help with caretaking? These decisions are frequently made in the face of difficulty, disagreement, and geographical distance. The formalized yet fluid decision-making process of mediation helps individuals and their families to make the necessary decisions to meet aging challenges. The specialty of elder mediation focuses on developing quality senior care, minimizing family conflict, and increasing wise financial planning.
The senior life changes that are frequently addressed in our elder mediation practice stem from three main issues: 1) loss of financial control 2) housing changes, and 3) new conversations with adult children about family finances. A family mediation will generate the careful and productive dialogue between adult children and their aging parents which is required to successfully address these challenges.
For many individuals, the decision between living at home versus moving to an assisted living facility can become immobilizing. This change brings up numerous issues. The initial decision was made for one woman and her family for her to remain at home and hire a part time home health aide. This became more expensive as time went by due to her changing physical needs and her greater dependence on the aide. She shared the question of remaining in her home or moving while meeting with her financial planner. The advisor suggested some of the cost and options. Her financial needs would be served better by selling her home and moving to an assisted living facility. She made the choice to stay in her home. In the meantime, the family was growing increasingly concerned about her financial and medical needs. Each time the family discussed with her about moving to an assisted living facility, an argument would ensue and again the decision would be delayed.
The family became so concerned that they sought the help of an elder mediator in order to have a family meeting. The mediator suggested that a geriatric care manager join their discussion in order to advise the family about housing options and community resources. The mother and her adult children were finally able to have a productive, comprehensive and creative conversation at the meeting. As a family, they crafted a successful plan for her to transition to a nearby assisted living facility which satisfied everyone's needs and concerns.