Discussion: Why families might want to mediate before their is an estate

PART ONE: Defining the Problem


Imagine this conversation between two siblings:

John: “Mom wrecked the car again last week. This is the third time in a year. When I asked her how did it happen, she stated that she got lost, pulled over to check her GPS but didn’t see the car approaching her on the right.  She was on her way home from the grocery store and she got lost? She really banged up her car. Luckily she was only shaken up not hurt “

Marcia: “She shouldn’t be driving anymore. I told you both that when I was there last Thanksgiving

You need to deal with pulling her license, selling the car and making arrangements to get her into assisted living.”

John: “How much time do you think I can afford to take off work to get this done? Her car needs to be fixed. She will never willingly give up her car keys. Assisted living? Why doesn’t she come live in NY? You have so much more time to deal with her than Susan and me. [Editor’s note: John’s wife] Besides, our twins are in college and we can’t afford to contribute much to her needs and maintenance.”

Marcia: “Bye Bye. Have a nice day.”

This conversation with myriad variations is occurring daily. Baby boomers’ parents are living longer than ever.  A parent’s ability to live independently is often impaired. Responsibilities must be assumed by the next generation. As can be seen from the above fictional dialogue siblings often avoid the necessary conversations about “what to do about Mom and Dad.”

As family members age and government resources are ever diminishing many difficult choices concerning elder family members will need to be made. Families must undertake the difficult job of evaluating resources and options. Communication and problem solving skills on a sophisticated, effective basis need to coincide. Elder care mediation is a rational first step. John and Marcia need to decide if they will preserve the family ties or let this situation –which will not remain static- destroy the family.