Families Facing New Challenges
Find Relief in Elder Mediation
If you come to this page feeling alone and overwhelmed because members of your family are in conflict over an issue, or several issues, related to the needs, interests and/or plans of a parent or elder relative, take heart. The truth is families everywhere are experiencing an increasing need for assistance in navigating conflict and the good news is that professional mediation is developing increasing capacity to meet that need.
Consider the challenging dynamics families face today. At every age, family members are confronted by obstacles, demands and opportunities never before encountered in such numbers:
Children are now raised in all kinds of family configurations and the traditional vision of the nuclear family no longer pertains in the majority of American households. Young adults take on staggering amounts of debt to fund college. Women are increasingly becoming the major income source for families of all kinds. Siblings are commonly dispersed from coast to coast and even internationally. And the elderly, who live on average thirty years longer than they did a century ago, are able to live longer with chronic diseases requiring various degrees of ongoing care. 43 million Americans — one quarter of all American households — provide unpaid care to adults over 50-years-old. It is a brave new world families face today. We deserve each other’s admiration for getting on as well as we do!
It’s a common joke these days, however, to refer to oneself and one’s family as dysfunctional, but we are not truly dysfunctional; we are simply struggling to cope with a surge of societal changes coming to a head with the aging of the baby boomer generation. So cut yourself and your family members a little slack. It’s no wonder if you are experiencing painful conflict. But now consider that elder mediation can offer you and your family a path to real relief.
Perhaps your family is trying to cope with one or more of the following issues that are among the most common sources of conflict among adult siblings and their parents:
- The need to provide varying levels of care for elder family members;
- The need to achieve cooperation and consensus around an elder family member’s ability to maintain independence, a driver’s license, and control over their finances;
- The need to adapt to communication and emotional challenges associated with degraded mental capacity resulting from Alzheimer’s Disease or other related diseases;
- The need to overcome and/or compensate for obstacles created by the geographic dispersion and infrequent communication of siblings;
- The need to move beyond old relationship patterns and to heal old wounds among siblings and between parents and their adult children.
- The need to overcome discomfort surrounding the issue of death in order to anticipate each family member’s core needs in proactively planning the distribution of the parents’ estate;
- The need to foster a means of discussing the way sibling wealth disparity affects the process of making decisions as a family.
These are tough challenges indeed. Fortunately, Family Tree Mediation’s elder mediation services can help in 10 important ways:
- By creating and holding a caring, attentive and inquiring communication space where you can all feel equally respected, free and encouraged to speak your truth;
- By facilitating a multi-party communication process aimed at giving each family member deeper satisfaction that he or she really has been heard and understood;
- By identifying and distinguishing between the different positions held by respective family members and the core needs those positions are intended to satisfy;
- By facilitating exploration of each other’s core needs as a means for creating more opportunity for creative solutions that address the diverse range of interests represented among the whole family;
- By identifying and discussing different standards and processes for evaluating the merit of proposed solutions;
- By helping the family to apply those standards as a means for coming to and refining an agreement on a plan for addressing the issues at hand;
- By facilitating the development of a plan for implementing the solutions agreed upon;
- By assisting the family in formalizing the agreement to the degree desired;
- By fostering an environment in which family members have the opportunity to heal old wounds, apologize for any past wrongs or regrets, and overcome childhood or other patterns that no longer serve a useful purpose;
- And by creating an opportunity for training and practice in more constructive communication patterns that will serve the family well when faced with other difficult issues in the future.
If you have questions you would like to ask about Family Tree Mediation’s elder mediation services or if you would like to schedule an appointment for mediation, you can call me at (650) 762-TREE [762-8733] or email me using the email form on our Contact Us page. One way or another, my wish for you is that help is on the way!