Today my grandmother Mary who I loved dearly, would have been 101 years old. She left us last New Year’s Eve. Yes, she lived to be 100. I have come to realize that I’d better take better care of my body as it might have to last a long time!! In honor of my grandmother, I am devoting today to elder care mediation. It happens slowly at first. Over time, weeks, months, or years you begin to notice that mom and dad aren’t as sharp as they used to be. Then one day, you realize you are making decisions for them. It’s like the roles are reversed. You can see that you’ve become the parent, making decisions regarding more and more aspects of their lives. Oftentimes this process is reluctantly accepted and may not just rest with you but may also include a wide range of input from other participants as well including siblings, healthcare professionals, insurance carriers and maybe even some input from the elder too.
While everyone may have the best interest of the elder at heart, sometimes there may be disagreement about how things should be handled. One sibling may want mom or dad to stay with them. Another might not see the harm in letting them continue to drive. Yet another may find the ‘perfect’ assisted care living arrangements. Rather than the care of mom or dad going smoothly and peacefully, there may end up being arguments and contention. It can end up being extremely upsetting for the elder if he or she becomes aware of this emotional tirade.
Elder care experts say cooperative planning, with you and your loved ones making decisions together, results in happier seniors and less-stressed caretakers. “All of us want some participation and some say in what’s happening in our lives,” says Lisa Kidd, R.N., B.S.N., administrator for Baptist Home Health Care in Jacksonville, Florida. “You’re going to get a lot more buy-in and a lot more happiness from someone who feels they made some contribution.”
Mediation is a tool you can use when so many options and questions hovering over the care of a loved one is being considered. A neutral third person can approach the situation without any bias or preconceived solutions. All the involved parties, including the senior if appropriate, can participate and ‘contribute’ in discussing what options might be best for the circumstances at hand. Through mediation many concerns can be resolved. As time goes forward and circumstances change, the mediation process can continue to be a vehicle for revisiting the care of loved ones. Mediation is a way to calm the emotion that may arise amongst the various parties involved and ensure that the overall goal of caring for the senior is addressed and achieved.
Here are five things you can do prior to mediation. Participating in the mediation after considering these items can make for a more satisfying outcome. Create a notebook where you can regularly revisit and write about these five thoughts for your own benefit.
1. Engage in regular discussions with your senior. Learn how they see their future and how they expect to respond to the challenges that come with aging. Make these discussions a part of normal conversation, not necessarily a ‘special’ discussion.
2. Look at your family resources, both financial and personal. What options can you able and willing to offer?
3. Research external services, facilities and resources. What does the community have to offer? Discuss these options with your senior.
4. Consider the temperament and personality of your senior. A very private, reserved senior may do better with in-home assistance whereas a social, outgoing senior may need a way to interact with other people.
5. Consider your own needs. Don’t offer more than you can do. It doesn’t help anyone for you to feel stressed, exhausted, broke or guilty.
We all grow older and when we do, some shifting of roles is almost sure to happen. Sometimes a capable, self-sufficient adult will suddenly struggle with even the most basic of tasks and become incapable, at which point loved ones must step in. Mediation Around The Table has mediators who are experienced at helping everyone come together, consider options and create an effective elder care plan.