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The Journal Gazette

Monday, September 12, 2016 10:00 pm

Resolving eldercare issues

Michael Rosswurm

Attorney Michael Loomis offered a splendid explanation on Aug. 19 of how mediation fosters resolution of disputes with clear benefits over taking lawsuits to trial.

I would add that many eldercare issues can also be successfully resolved through mediation.

As family members age, family dynamics can become more complicated and sometimes more contentious.

Conflicts that may have simmered below the surface can boil up and make family conversations difficult.

Siblings, dealing with geographic and economic differences as well as their traditional "place in the family," often find working together to help their aging parents too stressful to face.

Examples of issues that can be brought to mediation when caring for elders are mobility and driving privileges, health care decisions, re-fitting a house so older parents can remain in their home, power of attorney for finances, health care representative, guardianship, sibling conflicts, etc.

When elderly people encounter changes that bring stress and challenges to their lives and those of family members, mediation provides an opportunity for all concerned to participate in a safe, respectful and moderated conversation where differences can be discussed, information gathered and agreements reached.

Elder mediation is an instrument to help elderly people and those who care for them create mutually satisfying decisions about the physical, emotional and residential transitions they are facing.

The mediator explains that the entire matter will be kept confidential and that he or she strives for objectivity toward all parties and is committed to helping them reach a mutually satisfying solution.

Some benefits of using mediation for eldercare issues are that:

• All family members, especially the older person whose future is being discussed, are encouraged to participate in the process.

• The mediator is a trained professional who remains neutral, elicits input from all participants, defuses "hot topics," balances power between participants, focuses participants on issues and helps participants fashion an arrangement that is beneficial to all concerned.

• All participants have ample opportunity to present their views, are heard and have their perspective respected even when final resolutions mean compromise and accommodations.

Mediation focuses on establishing common ground between participants’ interests and uses collaboration to reach resolutions that all can live with.

Mediators often collaborate with additional resources in the community, e.g., elder law attorneys, estate planners, geriatric specialists, therapists, clergy, tax consults, etc. Their expertise can enhance the prospects of reaching a favorable resolution for all concerned.

If family members are in a dispute and need a dignified resolution that respects all parties involved, I encourage them to consider mediation as an effective instrument for achieving understanding and a peaceful resolution.