Saratoga Elder Mediation Lawyers
When your parents enter their golden years, swapping roles from adult child to caregiver can be stressful and disorienting for you. When a parent’s major life transitions throw children into conflict with one another, permanent family divisions can arise.
If you are reading this, you may be experiencing the turmoil of trying to arrive at decisions with siblings on a parent’s care. You are probably emotionally exhausted. Handling the situation may be interfering with your job or your own parenting responsibilities. You are almost certainly overwhelmed.
We are here to help. We offer free legal advice. Call our Saratoga elder mediation lawyers today.
You don’t have to worry about having money upfront to get the answers you need. Just call us at your convenience to schedule a free legal consultation.
The information on this page will give you the basics about your elder mediation situation. We’ll also use a story to illustrate the key role elder mediation plays in ensuring the best care for your senior. Be sure to read to the end.
A Kaleidoscope of Problems
There are many facets to the care of an elder who needs assistance. Some of these may include distribution of caregiving responsibilities, decisions on living arrangements, safety and health concerns, the sale of the family home, and handling wills and estates.
Taken individually, any one of these issues can cause a painful rift between adult children. When two or more of these facets are in play at once, communications can be irreparably damaged without the intervention of a skilled mediator.
Our experienced Saratoga elder mediation lawyers facilitate conversation, encouraging each family member to express their concerns and interests. We are highly skilled in conflict resolution and act as neutral facilitators. We do not pass judgement or take sides.
Our Saratoga elder mediation lawyers have two goals. The first is to help families create solutions to difficult disputes that are workable and agreeable to all parties involved. The second is to foster communication strategies with the family unit to facilitate future communications.
Elder Mediation Client Story
The story below is intended to give you an overview of the issues that can arise when caring for an elder, and how mediation can transform family communications. The names and details have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients, but the usefulness of the information remains. Be sure to read to the end to get the most from the insights below. When you are finished, please take advantage of our free legal consultations and get the information you need for your elder mediation case.
Claire Wilton woke with a start. Disoriented, she slowly pushed herself up in bed, careful not to startle Feather, her cherished fifteen-year-old Shih-Tzu.
She could tell it was early. A haze of early morning light filtered through the blinds. But where was she? Looking down at the bedspread, she recognized her favorite quilt. Her purse was where it should be, hung on the bedpost at the foot of the bed. But where was her mother’s vase? And her reading chair? She began to feel apprehensive.
Then, she heard it again. Raised voices from another room. Jaime and Susan’s voices. Her children. They sounded so deep…why did they sound like that? Feather looked up at her with one eye open and stretched. Claire scratched the little dog behind the ears and suddenly she remembered.
She was in Susan’s home. Her daughter had picked her up yesterday after that nice policeman had taken her to the station. But then he’d called Susan and told her Claire had been wandering in the supermarket in her pajamas. Her face flushed red with anger and embarrassment.
She would never go out in her pajamas! It was ludicrous. That policeman must have picked her up at home after seeing someone else at the store who looked like her. He brought her to the station. He was the one confused.
Downstairs, Jaime urged his sister to lower her voice again.
“Sue, please. Mom will hear you, and then nothing will get decided.”
Susan rounded on her brother as tears slid down her cheeks. “A ‘home,’ a ‘HOME,’ is THAT what you’re calling it, Jaime?” She raged, waving the pamphlet in his face before throwing it at him. It bounced off his chest and dropped to the floor.
“THAT’s a laugh. You want to put her away and sell the only home she’s ever known! It’s all about the money to you. It was ALWAYS about the money!”
“Sue, please, I can’t talk to you this way. Sit down, please,” Jaime pleaded as his sister crossed her arms tightly across her chest and slumped back against the kitchen counter behind her.
“Sue, I love Mom as much as you and Jenny do — of course I do! But you have to think rationally here. This is the third time Mom has wandered into the grocery store since Dad died.
“Look, I know she still has good days, but deep down you’ve got to see that she’s beginning to need supervision. We can’t leave her on her own until something goes sideways. Even if she insists she’s fine!”
“Now who’s raising their voice?” Susan countered. “Even if she couldn’t stay at home, she should live here, with me. Those ‘homes’ are all the same — they just want to drain her bank account. I can take CARE of her!”
“Sue, I know you want to, but you work full time. And with the boys heading for college, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Besides, you have stairs. What are you going to do, baby gate the entire—“
Jaime stopped short at the creak of the old stairs outside the kitchen. They nearly knocked each other down racing to intercept their mother before she lost her balance coming down.
“Mom! Oh you’re awake. Here, let me help you,” Susan said breathlessly meeting her Mom on the stairs as Feather bobbed past their ankles on her way down.
“Why are you fighting?” Claire asked sternly, looking from one to the other. Did Jaime take the last pancake? I can make more, you know. I know how to make pancakes!”
“I know you do, Mom, Jaime said, reaching for her hand as she stepped off the landing into the living room. “Come on into the kitchen. There’s fresh coffee.”
There was an uneasy silence as they settled Claire at the table with a warm mug of coffee and Susan filled Feather’s food dish. As she set it on the floor, she, swiped up the brochure before her mom could see it.
As she casually dropped it into the trash, the front door opened and Jenny, the youngest at 47, came through with her husband, Tom.
Susan and Jaime met them in the foyer.
“Nice of you to show up,” Jaime blurted, then immediately regretted it.
“We got her as fast as we could. The “Mass Pike” was a mess,” Jenny responded evenly as she took off her damp wool hat. Tom nodded to everyone and quietly went through the kitchen door to sit with Claire so the three siblings could talk.
Susan hugged her sister a little too hard as she urgently whispered her own complaint into Jenny’s soggy scarf. “Jaime wants to ship Mom off to an old age home!”
“Whoa, this is all a lot to process. How is Mom this morning? What about the house? And the bills…maybe Mom can come down to Springfield with me for a while,” Jenny offered, thinking out loud.
“So you can make all the decisions?” Jaime shot back.
“You can’t just take her, we all have a say in her care, little Sis,” Sue chimed in.
Jenny unconsciously took a step back, looking as though she’d been slapped. Blinking rapidly, she tried to remind herself that her brother and sister were distraught. At that moment, Tom came out of the kitchen with his phone.
“Don’t worry, big guy, Jenny can take care of herself,” Susan said holding up a hand to stop Tom from jumping in. “This is between sibs, no offense.”
“Sue, Tom’s a member of this family, too,” Jenny managed, trying to steady her voice.
Tom put his hands up in appeasement. “No offense taken. I’m not trying to jump in, but Jenny and I have some information we think will help EVERYONE. I’m just going to text a link and get back to Claire.”
Jaime and Susan’s cell phones chimed in unison with the incoming message as Tom smiled his most reasonable smile and backed his way into the kitchen again.
“Jean Mahserjian,” Susan read aloud. “You want us to speak to a LAWYER?” Fresh tears streaked down Sue’s face.
Overwhelmed, Jenny sunk to the couch and tried to cover a rush of tears with her hands as her shoulders shook.
Susan and Jaime instinctively flanked Jenny and put an arm around her from either side. Looking guiltily at each other over Jenny’s head, they apologized and tried to comfort her. After a few minutes, she calmed. Finally, she took a deep breath and explained.
“Tom and I started searching for answers after we packed last night. We found this website and checked it out. They have an experienced elder mediation process. They don’t just come in and boss everybody around. They’re highly skilled in conflict resolution. They act as neutral facilitators to make sure the concerns of all parties are addressed.
“And most importantly, they’ve DONE this before. Dozens of times, at least! The way we’re handling this so far, they can only be an improvement. I’m all ears if you guys have a better suggestion,” she added, looking hopefully from Jaime to Susan.
“I guess even big sisters need help sometimes,” Sue said, shrugging with a trembling smile.
Jaime breathed a sigh of relief and pulled the girls into a bear hug. “Let’s give it a shot. We’re certainly not getting anywhere trying to figure this out on our own.”
That afternoon, Tom took Claire up the road to her favorite Italian bakery to shop. Jenny, Jaime, and Susan met with one of our experienced Saratoga elder mediation lawyers for a free consultation.
Our mediator explained that our job is to remain neutral, without passing judgement or taking sides in discussions. We ensure that each family member is able to express their concerns and interests. Not only would we help the siblings find a workable and agreeable solution for all the facets of Claire’s situation, but we would also help them develop strategies for effective, future communications.
The tension in the room visibly lifted as the siblings left our office that day. And we are happy to say that Claire is now receiving the care she needs to everyone’s satisfaction, including Feather.
Contact Our Saratoga Mediation Lawyers Today
The complex emotional, financial, and logistical landscape of caring for a senior family member can jeopardize family ties. Our experienced Saratoga elder mediation lawyers understand what family members are going through. We facilitate and guide all parties to solutions that honor concerns and preserve relationships. Call us today for your free consultation, and find out how we can help you through this challenging time.