We provide mediation services for families in conflict over difficult issues. We also provide facilitation services for families wishing to have a structured decision-making conversation about future healthcare, financial, or living arrangements for an elder or disabled family member. Alternatively, we can provide conflict coaching for individual family members who prefer to learn conflict and communication skills and develop strategies for difficult conversations with other family members who choose not to attend a mediation or facilitation.
Typical issues in elder, caregiver, guardianship, and family mediation involve:
- Consumer issues Bill-paying, landlord-tenant, contract, insurance issues.
- Health/medical care decisions Who should provide care? What care is needed? Who should make medical decisions? Disputes with care providers. End of life issues. Are decisions consistent with prior expressed wishes?
- Financial decisions How should money be spent? How should investments be handled? Concern over "unwise spending." How to live on limited resources and cover care needs. How to manage business interests. Need to apply for benefits. Concern for protecting inheritance. Financial independence. Propriety of gifts (e.g., new relationships, some family members) vs. need for money for care. Who should make financial decisions? How to reconcile different values or expectations. Impact of memory problems on financial issues. Necessities v. luxuries. Financial situation of other family members. Impact of physical problems on financial issues. Fairness issues--e.g., between siblings. Accounting and reporting. Long-term planning. Bill paying.
- Living arrangements Where? With whom? Who decides? How much independence/supervision? Institutionalization. Discharge planning issues. Anticipating future needs. Acute and long-term care facility disputes. Visits by family members and friends.
- Communication issues Ability, means of family members discussing issues outside mediation. Need for information - what and by whom? How to share information among caregivers, family members, etc.
- Decision making Who should have authority to make decisions? What input (if any) should others have? Will this change over time?
- Personal, household care and maintenance Identity of caregiver, service providers. What type of care/service is needed? Who should decide? How will care/service be paid for?
- Safety/risk taking/autonomy What safety issues are identified? Does person understand and accept risk? Is this level of risk acceptable? Who should decide? Do parties have the same understanding of the risk? Is this risk assumption consistent with past decisions? Is there a reason to limit a person's autonomy?
- Family relationship issues (new or long-standing) How should family deal with sibling rivalries, new spouse or companion, blended family issues, death of spouse/care taker, other life changes? How do parties balance need for control among various parties? Are expectations consistent with past behavior?
- Lifestyle choices of older adult Divorce. Marriage. Friends or companions. Education. Work/job choices. Are current actions consistent with past choices? Who should decide? What other issues are interacting with these?
- Needs of other family members and caregivers Dependent children. Ongoing family businesses and employment issues. Career choices and demands of career vs. family. Reimbursement for services provided, inheritance issues for other family members. Respite care and support for caregivers, help from other family members or professional caregivers. Grandparents raising grandchildren issues including: household rules, custody and visitation issues, school issues, need for legal authority over children (for school, medical care, etc.), intergenerational issues.
- Guardianship / Conservatorship Are there less restrictive alternatives to guardianship available? If a court determines there is need for a guardian/conservator, who should be guardian or co-guardians? What are the wishes of the older adult? How will other family members communicate and share information with the guardian or conservator? What will be the guardian's responsibilities to siblings and other family members? Most of above issues may also arise in this setting.
- Issues arising after appointment of guardian / conservator Changing needs or abilities. Use of funds. Fiduciary actions. Visitation/access. Disputes between co-guardians. Most of above issues may also arise in this setting.
- Estate, trust, and probate matters Use, management, disposition of property, co-ownership issues, family tensions and relationships after death, grief and unresolved conflict, mistrust of family executors / administrators, division of property not covered by will.