Mediating Family Dynamics

There are various ways elder care mediations can be of use to families, but one that is rather common came to us recently that seemed to ring a bell for many other families we know. The outcome was positive for all involved, so we thought we would share. (The names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.)

Joan’s dad had begun to accept that he needed help. He already ruled out assisted living, but then also decided that he didn’t want anyone in his home; except for Joan. He wanted Joan to cook, clean and provide personal care for him. Joan had always been his favorite child and this was already a bone of contention amongst the other adult children.

As much as Joan adored her father and wanted to help, she wasn’t prepared to give up her job. She also had children and a husband at home. Joan contacted an agency that provided non-medical services, but her father was instantly resistant. Her siblings tried talking to their dad, but were also met with opposition. No one wanted to be the one to tell dad that Joan couldn’t do what he asked; especially Joan who was feeling rather guilty about her decision.

This case is a common one to be successfully resolved through mediation. The mediator was able to explain to the father in very neutral terms that Joan can help him, but SHE also needed professional support and she couldn’t do it alone. He was able to understand that she had needs as well and he was finally able to hear it coming from a neutral party.

It is easier for a neutral and knowledgeable mediator to not only bring the pertinent issues to the surface, but mediation can often save family relationships and introduce the family to options they may never have considered. Rather than avoiding the issues at hand, leaving family members with feelings of remorse and anger and bringing those issues to the surface can allow families to come together and the aging parent to get the proper care he or she needs and deserves.

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