Issues That May Benefit From Elder Mediation

Elder conflicts typically involve disputes among adult siblings about issues surrounding an aging parent’s changing care needs and medical treatment; the independence issues that accompany the aging process, including housing and living arrangements; and issues regarding financial management and the elder’s estate plan.

Caregiving/Healthcare Issues

  • How will the family members divide responsibility for the elder’s care needs?
  • If one family member is more actively involved in the elder’s care, will the primary caregiver be compensated by the elder or other family members?
  • Will the family contribute financially toward the elder’s needs and, if so, in what proportions?
  • If the family contributes financially toward the elder’s needs, will those contributions be somehow equalized at a later date?
  • Who are to be the elder’s health care providers, and who is in charge of directing care providers?
  • Can the family openly discuss and come to an understanding and agreement regarding carrying out the elder’s wishes with respect to end-of-life decisions (DNR Orders, burial and funeral decisions, etc.)?

Independence/Housing Issues

  • Will the elder remain living at home, or move to a child’s house, an assisted living facility or a nursing home?
  • Is it time to address the elder’s continued control of his or her finances, or his or her driving?
  • Can the elder’s increased needs be addressed through a part-time or full-time home health aide, or other support services at home?  Who will oversee or coordinate such services?

Estate/Financial/Inheritance Issues

  • Can the family openly address the elder’s present financial condition and future needs?  Are there sufficient assets to pay for future care needs and, if not, how will care be paid for? Can the family agree how money will be spent or invested, and who will be involved in such matters?
  • Can the family address the elder’s estate plan, and understand the reasons for seemingly unequal distributions, to avoid conflicts later?
  • Can the elder’s care needs be provided for while preserving estate assets for the family and other loved ones?  Who decides what actions are appropriate in seeking the most effective use of limited assets?

Social life and Activities

  • Are the children concerned about potential undue influence by the elder’s new friends and, if so, can the parties come to an arrangement in which the elder is adequately protected from potential financial abuse, while respecting the elder’s right to associate with people of his or her choosing?
  • Can adequate arrangements be made so that the elder is able to safely continue social activities that he or she enjoys?