Planning for our end of life is not always easy for the planner or their family. No one likes to think about getting old or the possibility of losing our ability to care for or make decisions for ourselves. Having the right tools in place can help alleviate the worry of the “what if?” Discussing your wishes and plan with family members can give them clarity and help avoid additional stress and conflict if something happens to you.
Wills & Trusts: These are basic tools that allow you to have a say on issues that are important to you after you die. Who will take care of your minor children? How will they be provided for? What will happen to any property you own? Who do you want to ensure your wishes are carried through? If you don’t express your wishes the court will have to make these decisions.
Powers of Attorney: There are two types of powers of attorney, financial and health care. These allow someone else to make decisions regarding your health care or manage your finances if your are unable to.
Advanced Directive (Living Wills): An advanced directive allows you to explain what care you do or do not want as you near the end of life. It also allows you to name who you want to make these decisions. The end of life can be very stressful for families and loved ones and having your final wishes in writing can bring comfort and help avoid conflict.
Guardianships & Conservatorships: If a person can no longer care for themselves or manage their affairs, and earlier arrangements have not been made, it may become necessary to establish a guardianship or conservatorship to allow someone else to make decisions regarding daily care and manage the finances. A guardian takes care of the person. A conservator manages the finances.
Elder care mediation is designed to meet the needs of older adults and their families through improved communication and proactive planning. We face a variety of issues as we age and it can change the dynamic of the family. For adult children, questions come up that we don’t know how to ask gracefully. For older adults the day to day is gradually changing in ways that younger relatives don’t understand. Our tendency is to wait until there is a crisis to act. Mediation can help families have these conversations sooner so that when crisis hits there is already a plan in place.
This facilitative process can be done as a one time event or it can be used as an ongoing resource if needed. Given the changes that come as we age, some families find it helpful to “check-in” periodically to make sure that the plan they have established is still meeting their current needs. Having these conversations proactively avoids the stress of jumping from one crisis to the next and helps the family work as a team to make the most of the resources and options available to them.
Proactive mediation for elder issues can help families:
- Address the difficult questions adult children would like to ask their senior parents.
- Help adult children understand the changes their senior parents are going through.
- Develop a plan for how to care for their loved ones health and estate.