June 4, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

happy couple talking with caregiver

When it comes to working together to ensure the needs of your aging parents are met, even the closest of siblings can find themselves in conflict. Emotions and stress levels are, naturally, running high. Add to that your past family dynamics and history, which tend to resurface during challenging times, and it’s easy to see how difficult this stage in life can be for each of you.

The most common areas of contention among siblings include financial decisions, differing opinions on medical treatments or living arrangements, and an unfair balance of tasks related to caregiving, just to name a few.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you and your siblings are simply unable to reach an agreement on how to best care for your aging parents. An impasse like this is actually quite common, often stemming from past, unresolved conflicts and challenging family dynamics. However, there is a solution many families are unaware of that can be extremely helpful: enlisting the help of an elder mediator.

A professional trained in conflict resolution, an elder mediator brings an objective, third-party voice to family meetings. He or she can help defuse heightened emotions and outbursts and direct the conversation in a way that brings about a result that all parties can accept.

Elder mediator Susanne Terry explains, “Most of the time siblings want what’s best for the parents. They just look at it in a different way. Our goal is to help them figure out what their common interests are, so they can work together to find solutions.”

Unlike family therapy, which helps families work through problems gradually over an extended period of time, elder mediation is a focused, condensed process that typically leads to an agreeable outcome in only a couple of sessions.

Elder mediators allow siblings the opportunity to both provide input and listen respectfully to each other. The goal is not only to determine the best outcome for the senior parents, but to help siblings maintain healthy relationships with each other in the process.

When exploring elder mediation options, there are several questions you should ask:

  • What is your education, training, and background?
  • How much experience do you have in our particular situation?
  • Are you a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) or other professional associations?
  • What are your fees?

To find an elder mediator in your area, visit APFM’s mediator directory. Once you and your siblings agree on the best path forward in caring for your aging parents, contact At Home Independent Living, the leading provider of in home senior care in Marietta, NY and surrounding areas. We’ll be happy to provide a free in-home consultation to discuss how we can help ensure all of their care needs are fully met.