We Can Help with Family Conflict
While some families can come together and work cooperatively around the care of and help for an aging parent, many families cannot do so without help. We work with families who are having a hard time.
Sometimes issues come up when a daughter or son has been the primary helper of an elderly parent, and the burden has become heavier as the parent’s health declines. Then, a family conflict is created by the disproportionate load of caregiving on one person. Resentment builds and communication breaks down. We assist families in restoring open discussion, getting concerns aired and effectively asking for what they need.
In other families, there may be one sibling who does not contribute work or financial help to an aging parent, causing anger and tension to build among the others. Communication has become hostile or has broken down altogether. We help facilitate communication among those involved through family meetings. These meetings can take place by phone, in person, by Skype or in the most extreme cases, by email. When a family member is not able to communicate effectively, we can help by suggesting an appropriate way to communicate without hostility or verbal violence.
Disagreements About Parents Finances
Many families find themselves in disagreement over control of their parents’ finances. Some family members may manipulate an elder who is cognitively impaired into signing legal documents that transfer control over health care decisions or financial decisions to someone different from the person the parent initially appointed. This often is a source of discord. It leads to suspicion, mistrust and accusations of financial abuse by other family members.
We work with families to bring about transparency in all financial transactions. We may interact with the parents’ estate planning attorney, warring siblings and others. If the elder needs legal protection, we can recommend it and where to find it. We may refer a heated and urgent legal matter to a trusted colleague to handle or help a family member find competent legal counsel for litigation.
Sometimes families have a difficult and dependent sibling who has been living with their aging parents. When one parent passes away and the other parent needs more help than the live-in adult child can provide, this also creates family conflict. We help families come up with a strategy to transition either the aging parent or the adult child to a different situation so that the elder can be properly cared for.
Family Mediation Can Help Resolve Disagreements
When families are in a dispute, one of the tools we offer is called family mediation or “elder mediation.” Mediation is a formal way of resolving disputes by discussion. It has the goal of helping those involved reach their own agreements. When we serve as mediators, we do not judge who is right or wrong, and we do not decide the outcome of the conflict. Rather, we guide and suggest ways in which the parties can work it out themselves, without anyone else telling them what to do.
Mediation is a valuable way to avoid disputes from escalating to the point where family members are taking each other to court or end up not speaking to one another. We believe strongly that family mediation can help most people resolve their fights. Both Carolyn and Dr. Davis are trained and experienced mediators for families.
The American Bar Association sponsors a contest to encourage mediators to create videos to educate the public about ways in which mediation can be helpful to them. AgingParents.com submitted this award-winning video to illustrate what elder mediation is about. It demonstrates in just a few minutes the basic idea of mediation in a family that is having a conflict about the care of their aging father.
Jim Kimzey, Tender Rose Home Care
Sign up for our newsletter today.
Our “Quick Tips” article series provides brief e-mails with practical suggestions on everything from money management to critical legal documents.