The longer lifespans of Americans combined with family issues have created (or in some cases exacerbated) existing family disputes and conflict. Issues and conflicts which have become more common include:
- If/when to “take away” a parent’s driver’s license/car keys
- Inheritance issues with the re-marriage of a parent later in life
- Which sibling takes care of a parent who can no longer live on their own
- When and how to make the decision to place a parent in some type of assisted living arrangement
- When to end a life when the elder’s wishes are not clear (similar to Terri Schiavo’s case)
These disputes have the common threads of loss of freedom for the elder person balanced against the caring for the safety of the elder person by their children. There is also a theme of sibling rivalry and the playing (or replaying) out of disputes that often began in childhood, but now in an adult context with the parent as trigger.
A mediator as an impartial third party can often help the family sort out these very emotional issues. I am trained as an elder mediator and will shortly be launching another website dedicated to this area of my mediation practice.
National Public Radio recently featured a story on elder mediation. If you are having family conflict over later in life issues, please contact me to see how I can help.