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Solve Family Caregiving Squabbles with the Power of Mediation

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A newly published article on the website Senior Care Advice sheds new light on a familiar but often overlooked topic: family mediation. We encourage you to click here to read this helpful and timely piece which points out once again how engaging a family mediator at the right time can not only save thousands of dollars but can also hold families together in stressful times.

This just-published article quotes a study from the insurance firm MetLife stating that nearly 10 million adult children are currently providing care for their aging parents. In fact, says MetLife, “With the onslaught of Baby Boomers reaching old age, the number of adult children caring for their parents…has tripled over the last 15 years.” This can create enormous complications in the lives of caregivers and open the door to unexpected conflict. “Family disputes between siblings and even parents and children can cause rifts in the family dynamics just when the need for solidarity is at its greatest,” the article says.

The causes of these divisions are predictable, usually boiling down to money, control and independence. But often the emotional roots run deeper. The article points out that “It is usually one family member that bears the load of nearly all the care and that can cause stress, burn-out and resentment.” When that happens, the other family members often feel guilt, which makes for more conflict. By engaging a mediator early on, family members, including aging parents, have a “safe, neutral environment” where issues can get resolved.

Here at AgingOptions our attorneys have served many times as family mediators, and we have seen firsthand the wisdom of engaging a mediator early in the planning process. Too many families wait until physical and mental problems are acute and the challenges have grown intense. If you sit down with a mediator while Mom or Dad is physically and mentally able to participate actively in the planning process, things go much more smoothly. “If the elder makes the decisions beforehand, they don’t feel like their independence has been taken away,” says the Senior Care Advice article.

There’s much more to consider in deciding how and when to engage a mediator, but we urge you to have the conversation among your own family members sooner rather than later. For example, we can provide suggestions about the legal documents you’ll need to have in place in order to make sure your parents’ wishes are respected. We can help you and your siblings put important issues down on paper in a simple agreement that deals with potentially difficult issues. We can also suggest ways to compensate the primary caregiver, a topic that can lead to family feuds if not adequately addressed. These and many more are examples of potentially touchy matters where a mediator can save your family’s unity.

What about your own retirement planning? Are you satisfied that you have laid the foundation for a fruitful retirement that takes into account your health care needs, your housing choices, your financial concerns and your legal affairs, along with your family dynamics? A LifePlan can do all that. That’s our term for a comprehensive multi-faceted retirement plan, and we can help you get started toward developing your own. The first step is often to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, an information-packed session that will help you begin the process. Then if you wish we will meet with you personally to put all aspects of your plan into place.

Register for a free LifePlanning Seminar on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We’ll be happy to meet you at an upcoming event.

(originally reported at

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