Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Elders

I'm so excited!

This week I learned about a whole new way to use mediation - to help families make decisions together when an elderly parent can no longer take care of herself, or drive, or live alone. Or when the siblings are trying to decide what to do with the summer house, or how to divide up the stuff Dad left ...

The training was taught by Arline Kardasis and Blair Tripp from Elder Decisions/Agreement Resources in Massachusetts. They are very compassionate - particularly towards the needs of the elder. (In this way, it is not a completely neutral process.)

How do you manage to keep your independence and your dignity when you can't do what you used to? You depend on your daughter, but she is always arguing with your son....

How often do adult siblings argue when Mom needs more care, or Dad needs to go into a nursing home? And yet, this is when they need each other the most.

There is so much to do! Not only take care of Mom or Dad's day to day needs, but to find out what resources are available, how much it all costs, whether insurance will pay, where s/he'll get the best care ... And then, how do you deal with the emotions of it all - to see that your own parent can't do it all as s/he used to, that you have kind of a role reversal, having to take care of him/her more, or, attending to your own grief which may come all at once or in the little details of having someone slowly slip away for you.

And this is when all of the old sibling stuff from your childhood may come up! (Remember the Smothers Brothers? Mom always loved you best!)

Mediation is a great way to start the dialog, to do problem solving together, to build back those important family relationships, to begin to work together as a team ...