Is Elder Care Mediation Right for Your Family?
What Exactly is Elder Law?
Elder Law is an area of Family Law related to the care of elderly or dependent persons. As the number of aging persons increases in our society, the opportunities for family disputes arising out of the needs and care of aging parents will only increase.
Advance planning by a parent can prevent many family disputes. But advance preparation is too often not the norm. And families can also be caught off guard by quickly deteriorating health issues that require additional support and care.
Elder Law and Elder Abuse Law
Elderly or dependent adults can be extremely vulnerable, especially when neglected or not properly cared for. Often, neglect or abuse occurs because caretakers are unaware of elder care services that may be available.
Elder laws have been enacted in response to abuses that have occurred in the past, which include not only physical and emotional harm to the elderly or dependent person, but also the taking of properties and valuables by fraud or embezzlement, depriving a person of the care they need, and sometimes holding the person essentially as a prisoner.
Anyone who knows, or reasonably should know, that an elderly or dependent person is living under circumstances which are likely to produce harm or injury, yet who willfully causes or permits the elderly person to suffer, may be punished severely.
Resolving elder care disputes through litigation is appropriate when there is intentional elder abuse or neglect. But many elder care disputes do not involve intentional harm or neglect, and are better resolved outside of the courts, through elder mediation.
Elder Mediation / Elder Care Mediation
Family disputes related to the care of elderly parents can be resolved in a peaceful and economic manner through the use of a qualified, experienced elder mediator like family law attorney and elder care expert Michael H. White.
Traditional litigation of family law disputes within the courts can often be divisive, destructive, and detrimental to all involved (not to mention expensive). Bringing in lawyers to “resolve” elder disputes often exacerbates the conflicts, adding fuel to the fire.
Elder mediation, by contrast, can be a healing process that not only resolves the specific conflicts, but, if done right, is able to restore broken family relationships and lay the groundwork for harmonious, mutually beneficial relationships.
Advantages of elder mediation:
- Less cost– Mediation dramatically reduces costs over traditional litigation
- Faster resolution – Resolutions can be achieved in days and weeks, not years
- Greater harmony – Improved respect and communication within the family
- Better elder care– Best possible outcome and care for aging parents and relatives
Often family members are conflicted over the decisions about caregiving that need be made. There may be conflicts between family caregivers, or between the caregivers and the elderly persons themselves. The care of elderly or dependent adults often falls on people who are not related to the person being served or who are not qualified to care for the elderly person. These kinds of family disputes can greatly benefit from the services of an experienced elder mediator.
A classic example is the parent unwilling to give up driving when it is clear that they can no longer safely do so. Few people are trained to resolve such issues without resorting to extremes—either ignoring the problem until an accident occurs, or taking over in a heavy-handed way that robs the elderly person of their dignity and independence.
Through effective communication, mediation can be a way to resolve these kinds of issues before serious harm occurs. It is a completely voluntary process that improves the communication skills of all involved, and helps families achieve a healthy balance between the dignity of the aging person and the safety of them and their potential victims.