Making Elder Care Decisions
Making Elder Care Decisions With Help From a Family Mediator
by Guest Author Cynthia O’Conner, Certified Mediator
The U.S. Census Bureau in their Current Population Survey of 2012 stated that the elder population — people age 65 and over — makes up 13.5 % of the total U.S. population. The Center for Disease Control reports that there are “more than 24 million unpaid caregivers providing care for someone.” Sooner or later someone in your family will be one of the people who are included in these statistics. In some families, conflicts and rifts among family members will arise regarding the care of a loved one.
Family mediation is a resource for families making decisions about present and future elder care. A mediator can help the family to work through issues of concern or current conflict in a way that preserves and promotes positive relationships within the family.
Mediators are neutral; they do not take sides. A mediator’s role is to facilitate discussions that assist the family to resolve differences of opinion and develop a plan for managing economic or health-related issues for the elderly relative. Mediation is private and confidential. The mediator will help the family members work together. Ideally, everyone who cares will have an opportunity to participate in the mediation process. Mediation is much less expensive than litigation and helps people avoid the long-lasting or permanent disruption of family harmony that results from litigation.
Here are a few examples of the wide range of issues a mediator can help with:
- long term care alternatives
- responsibilities of the caregiver
- who is going to make medical decisions on behalf of the parent or family member when they can no longer make their own decisions
- health care proxy
- who is going to have Power of Attorney
- who will manage assets and property
- who will be responsible for business decisions and coordination
- estate planning
- end of life decisions
- any issue that the family or the elder family member would like assistance with
- effective communication among family members
Every family is unique. As the population grows older we are faced with challenging and sometimes complicated medical concerns and financial needs of our elderly relatives. Mediation is a positive choice to help resolve conflicts and assist with planning. All families have conflicts and disagreements, and there are times when families need help to resolve a disagreement or develop a plan. Very few decisions are more difficult than decisions involving a family member who needs assistance or is no longer able to care for themselves. Mediation is one of the best methods available to help a family maintain or develop good family relationships while making difficult decisions. Finally, mediation helps families develop skills for working together to handle any future challenges that may arise.
This site is for informational purposes only. Nothing here should be construed as legal advice. All of the mediators in Colin Family Mediation Group are certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia. For a free consultation about whether family mediation would be helpful for you, contact Virginia Colin, Director, at mediatorQ@gmail.com or 703.864.2101.
1.U.S. Census Bureau, “Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2012.” Internet release date: December 2013. Table 1. Population by Age and Sex: 2012. www.census.gov/population/sodemo/statbriefs
2. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Family Caregiving: The Facts”. www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/facts