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Many Families are Resolving Conflict through Elder Mediation

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We’ve said it many times, in our printed materials and on the radio: few conflicts can become more contentious than family conflicts. Tragically, this is especially true when it comes to issues relating to elder care. We think that’s because, in conflicts over how to care for Mom or Dad (and how to divide the estate), the stakes are high, emotionally and financially. Long-smoldering rivalries and animosities can flare into full-fledged conflagrations, damaging family relationships for years – sometimes forever.

That’s why we were interested in this article on the website regarding Elder Mediation services. (Read the entire article here.) It describes several scenarios in which the services of a mediator can prove invaluable, either to avoid family conflict or to resolve it. Circumstances involving sale of the family home, distribution of assets, sharing of responsibilities for care and visitation, and decisions about medical treatment for an aging loved one are just a few of the “trigger points” for serious division between family members.

As the article puts it, “Issues like residence decisions, distribution of caregiving responsibilities, safety and health concerns, wills and estates, the sale of the family home, and more can divide a family for years to come.” It goes on to state that, at times when communication is particularly difficult, making decisions becomes impossible. “Families may need the help of a skilled mediator to get them ‘unstuck’ so they can move forward,” the article concludes.

When is it wise to seek the services of a mediator? We can answer in one word: early. The sooner a family sits down together to come up with carefully-planned and creative solutions to fit their unique needs and circumstances, the more likely they are to avoid litigation, which is not only financially costly but often devastating to family relationships. “The process of mediation allows families to develop creative solutions to challenges in a way that the courts cannot,” according to the article. That’s because courts lack the time or resources “to explore options that would reflect the best interests of the senior while avoiding protracted family conflict.”

We repeat what we have said many times – aging is a family affair. In our interaction with thousands of clients and radio listeners, we’ve emphasized the importance of involving your family in every aspect of your retirement planning. Of course, that’s just one element of what we call a LifePlan. Your plan should also include getting your legal and financial affairs in order, planning for your health care costs, and deciding what housing choices are best for you.

So to learn some constructive ways to involve your family in all your aging-related decisions, and to begin preparing your comprehensive retirement plan, we invite you to attend a free, information-packed LifePlanning Seminar. Click on the Upcoming Events tab to find out dates, times and locations of a seminar near you. Space for these popular events is limited, so we encourage you to register online at your earliest opportunity.

One final note: if you are in a situation where some form of elder mediation is appropriate, please contact our office. We would be pleased to meet with you and your family members to help you plan for the years ahead in a way that ensures that your needs are well met, and that the chances of family conflict are greatly reduced, and often eliminated entirely. It would be our privilege to serve you and your family in these important decisions.

(originally reported at

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