A recent cartoon shows an elderly gentleman in a doctor’s office. The older gentleman looks horrible and exhausted. The chipper young doctor says something like, “Welcome to the extra time permitted you by your living such a healthy life.”
People do live longer than they used to, due to better living and environmental conditions and medical care. At the same time, the baby boom generation is entering retirement age, in increasing numbers. The result is millions of aging children of elderly parents. Just because we age, however, does not mean we necessarily become the wiser.
In most instances, we probably would agree that open communication reduces the likelihood of disputes. If your elderly parents are like mine, however, they are not quick to discuss issues associated with passing the torch from one generation to the next: issues such as death, frailty, dementia, wills, healthcare wishes, nursing homes, estate and wealth management. The list goes on.
Where intra-family communication fails to grow alongside the list of issues to consider as parents age, the potential for conflict likewise grows. Conflicts surrounding aging parents may exist between the parents themselves, between parents and children, or between children (and why not throw in the in-laws just for fun?), especially when these big issues are wrapped in silence. We all know after all that our elderly parents are not the only ones who like to keep the big issues locked in a box, out of sight.
Mediation can help families overcome obstacles that a lack or failure in communication may produce. A mediator will facilitate open conversation between family members. Mediation can help family members to identify, discuss and resolve issues that need to be addressed as a family, and to focus on ensuring the care of aging parents, or the successful passing of wealth from one generation to the next.
Mediation now may prevent conflict or even litigation later. The modest cost of mediation may just save time, money and anxiety in the future. Additional information may be found in this recent article from AARP.
Call 518-641-1005 for a free consultation to discuss whether mediation may help you to resolve issues facing you and your family.