article was published in the Rochester Woman Magazine,
Conflicts: Who Comes First?
By Carolyn T. Bryson, Family Mediator
am concerned about the growing tension between us, as sisters.
Once again, I am the one who is taking time off from work to take
dad to all his doctor appointments. I am the one he calls when
he is upset about missing mom and having the Sunday Blues. I feel
taken advantage of. I am also discouraged by our constant arguments
about where dad should live and about his finances. To make things
worse, dad is aware of our conflicts and is very upset about it.
Please, we have to talk!!
be an immense responsibility to assume the role of a primary caretaker
for your aging relative. And, for those of you who have children
(often referred to as "the Sandwich Generation"), it
potentially means double duty. Running errands, juggling schedules,
racing between work and home, managing two households and being
available "24/7" can be overwhelming and exhausting.
In addition, there are many eldercare issues that require research,
supervision, financial resources and support. Often resentment
occurs when one adult child feels taken advantage of because these
responsibilities are not shared equitably. Or, disagreements between
siblings arise about what is in the best interest of the older
adult. Relationships between family members can become very difficult,
and, if unresolved, can lead to permanent bitterness. Ultimately,
the aging relative becomes very upset because they see family
members fighting and arguing about them and their care.
do you do when family members cannot make agreeable decisions
regarding their aging loved-one? How do you:
Address physical and emotional health needs of your older relative
b.. Designate someone as power of attorney and
determine adult guardianship when the aging adult becomes unable
make their own decisions
c.. Manage your aging relative’s finances
and home maintenance
d.. Protect your aging relative from unwelcome
solicitors and scam artists
e.. Determine where your aging relative should
live, both short-term and long-term
f.. Arrange long-term medical care, when your
aging relative becomes ill
g.. Handle retirement investments, estate and
tax issues, real estate and family valuables
h.. Resolve disputes involving inheritances,
Wills and estates, daily care and shared responsibilities
Arrange a Mediated Family Meeting
using a neutral, third-party mediator to facilitate family meetings,
one who is not emotionally involved or has a vested interest in
the outcome. Select either a professional mediator or a geriatric
social worker who is skilled and experienced in facilitating group
meetings and has specific professional mediation training in eldercare,
adult guardianship and family issues.
the process involves three phases. Phase I is the pre-meeting
preparation, which involves data collecting, deciding who will
participate, selecting a neutral location, conducting research,
identifying the issues that need to be discussed, and preparing
proposed solutions. Phase II is the actual meeting or series of
meetings, in which the mediator will facilitate discussions, keep
discussions focused and progressive, help participants hear each
other and consider each other’s point of view, and finally
map out action items and timelines that are agreeable. The final
phase is the post-meeting follow-up, to ensure that agreements
are being followed through and assess whether the needs of the
older relative are being met satisfactorily to the participants.