Making difficult decisions can be a stressful process and lead to disagreements, conflict and even expensive court proceedings.
Mediation is confidential and voluntary. With the help of a mediator who is also familiar with the local resources, family members can share information, explore and evaluate options, and develop workable solutions through a process that promotes open and positive communication. The mediator is a neutral, who facilitates solutions that will work for the family as a whole.
As families age, the dynamics often become more complicated and entrenched, especially for siblings. Old conflicts can make collaboration and communication even more difficult. Geographic distance, differing economic means and concerns for immediate families can add to the challenges. Coming together for family decision-making can seem overwhelming.
The following are representative of the many actual cases resolved at Bay Area Elder Mediation.
Case 1. There were three siblings in conflict over decisions regarding their widowed mother's care. One of the siblings who lived in another state was a doctor and believed the caregivers for her mom were not competent. She moved temporarily to the mother's home to coordinate new care but was becoming overwhelmed by the task. Conflict arose with her siblings whether mom should remain in the family home or move to an assisted living facility. Additional arguments existed over the handling of the mother's trust and over the responsibilities of the medical power of attorney. In two sessions a week apart, held at the mother's home, an agreement was reached to move the mother to an assisted living facility. All other issues were resolved.
Case 2. The father was living in a memory care facility and believed he did not belong there and that the family was retaliating by putting him there because of his prior alcoholism. He had not been conserved but did arrive at the facility by way of a hospital. The elder son was not willing to allow the father access to his financial resources or consider alternative living facilities. There were complicated capacity issues because of the manner in which the father ended up in the facility. After a successful mediation the family removed the father from the facility, restored his resources and with his consent moved him to an assisted living facility less restrictive. Court action was avoided.
Case 3. Three sisters were alternating weeks caring for their mom. Issues arose relating to one sister's role as trustee and problems finding caregivers who spoke mom's language. After one mediation meeting at mom's home, the sisters rearranged their caregiving schedules and learned about the resources available for help. Most of the issues that could have become contentious were easily resolved simply by improving communication between the sisters.
Case 4. Four brothers were concerned about their very elder mother who lived alone in the family home. One of the brothers lived nearby while the others were several states away. The brother living close to mom wanted to purchase mom's house when she moved into an assisted living facility. He wanted a zero down payment and no monthly payments secured by his future inheritance. Mom was only willing to "try out" assisted living but was not sure she would like it and might want to return home. The boys did not get along over many issues relating to mom and other childhood disputes. An "online" mediation was arranged temporarily resolving issues until the brothers could all get together in person.
Many other cases: As a field ombudsman I have encountered virtually every kind of issue involving caregivers, institutional care, and resident to resident conflicts. Almost all can be resolved through mediation. Mediation is always less expensive than court.