As a Gen X-er, I’ve been familiar with the term “sandwich generation” for quite some time. Many of us are raising our kids and caring for our aging parents at the same time. Parenting is hard, but we usually only have our spouse (or ex-spouse) to deal with when it comes to the important decisions that parents need to make. However, when it comes to caring for our parents, things can get a lot more complicated. First and foremost, we are talking about grown adults who have managed their own lives and their own affairs for a very long time. To say that they may be resistant to outside assistance – whether it is physical, emotional, or medical – from one of their children is optimistic at best. In addition, there are often siblings, aunts and uncles, grandchildren, or other family members or close friends that all have strong opinions as what is best. How do you bring everyone to the table to have a constructive conversation to address the challenges of helping our parents as they get older? Even more importantly, how do we discuss elder care while making sure our parents are respected, heard, and able to maintain their autonomy whenever possible?
One Answer is Mediation
As mediators, we facilitate difficult discussions and help people come to the table and resolve their issues. Mediation is a confidential and private forum for assisted family decision making, and the earlier the better. There are many financial, legal, and healthcare related issues to discuss as our parents age and avoiding these discussions only kicks the can into the future. Early intervention allows for all family members to have a seat at the table, including the elder. Conversations are more productive and allow for more flexibility before a family is in crisis, before conflicts that have been simmering for a while have a chance to bubble over.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
Mediation is especially useful for conflict that isn’t necessarily solved by the law. For example, what if you have a family of four siblings trying to figure out how to equally share in the caring of their mom after their dad passed away last month? There is no law that requires a child to take care of their parents, and the law certainly doesn’t create a schedule, a financial spreadsheet, or determine complicated logistics for you. The law doesn’t help your family determine whether or not to sell the home or unravel complicated financial issues. Mediation can help get everyone on the same page, outline shared and specific goals, and navigate complicated emotions in order to come up with a plan that can work for everyone involved. If you would like to talk about ways we can help your family, contact us today for a free consultation.