Should you consider family mediation when organising aged care?

It’s safe to say we all want to get along with our siblings, no matter how old we get. But, if you’re someone that’s trying to figure out a care plan for your ageing parents, the stress can sometimes cause fighting in the family. From feeling emotionally taxed to struggling to talk finances, there are new challenges that come with discussing your parents’ aged care. And, with an ageing population, we’re all the more likely to have to talk with siblings about looking after our parents as they get older.

If you know you’re going to need help in the future with your own parents, it’s better to get on the front foot so you don’t feel a rift develop between you and your siblings over time.

Mediation and management

There’s a relatively new service designed specifically to help both ageing parents and siblings with the very issues that come with getting older. While Elder Mediation first started in the states in the eighties, it has now moved over to Australia with Amanda Molomby of Consensus Conflict Management becoming the first accredited Elder Mediator in Australia. Amanda has been helping families across the country with disputes about ageing parents since 2009.

“Elder Mediation is about having a neutral person bring everyone together in a calm, safe way to help the family navigate this emotional and difficult issue,” says Amanda.

“When an elderly parent sees their children squabbling about their care needs, it causes them great upset and they often feel insecure and vulnerable as a result. They just want the conflict resolved, and it’s the mediator’s role to help achieve this.”

With specialist training all to do with ageing, including the mental and physical effects, as well as coping with loss and caregiving, a mediator will help you through everything including the legal tools available like guardianship, advance health directives and powers of attorney.

Is mediation for me?

Whether you and your siblings are getting on well at the moment, or you already have a pretty tense relationship, it’s sure to be tested if and when you begin to plan your parents’ aged care plan.

One way you can help take control of the process is to encourage your family to include a mediation service as you all go through the journey together. The confidential process usually begins with an informal family meeting, which includes the mediator.

Whether on Skype, in your family home, or at a more neutral location, this meeting acts as a safe and friendly forum to work through those family decisions. You’re all able to speak you mind and be heard; making sure every option is discussed.

“The family is expertly guided through this process. Together, we discuss the older person’s wishes and expectations, and what services and finances are available to support those wishes. We discuss the balance of responsibility between the siblings and what effect this will have on their own lives,” says Amanda.

“Every family dynamic is different. My role is to gain an understanding of that dynamic and help the family create a village around the older person. I use my specialist training and impartial status to try and take the conflict away and replace it with balance and support.”

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