The elderly man became increasingly alarmed as the battles among his five grown children grew acrimonious.
His two daughters, worried that he wasn't taking proper care of himself, wanted him to move to a retirement community. His three sons balked, insisting that he was managing fine in his own home. At a family meeting their father made this jarring announcement: I'm nearing the end of my life, and you are making me so unhappy that it might be easier if I killed myself and ended the fighting.
Unlike lawyers who are hired to advocate for one side, elder-care mediators function as impartial observers in a voluntary process designed to be less adversarial - and cheaper - than a court proceeding. Mediation is increasingly being recommended by lawyers and judges to families for whom a temporary stalemate or long-term estrangement has morphed into a full-blown crisis, often triggered by parental disability. Mediators say their job is not to dictate a solution, but to establish a framework for making decisions and to forge a consensus that is right for a particular family.
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Mediators Try to Help Families Resolve Conflicts Over Aging Parents