80% of Older Americans Can’t Afford to Retire: COVID-19 Doesn’t Help
Kind and decent people can become vindictive and hooked enemies when their parents are on the decline. Brothers and sisters can turn against each other in unusually unpleasant ways. To address these disagreements, families can seek help from an unbiased stranger. In recent years, older mediators have been positioned to play this role. Read: How Climate Change Is Ruining Retirement “The number of older mediators seems to be growing,” said Don Saposnek, a family mediator in Aptos, California. “Follow the demographics of more aging people.” Saposnek has found that tensions can flare as a family struggles with end-of-life problems. “Siblings who always got along really well can start fighting with each other, stop talking to each other, steal jewelry or things of sentimental value and have the feeling that they have a right that ‘dad was closer to me, so I’ll get their expensive tools from the garage without telling anyone, ‘”he said. “People act erratic and angry.” When conflicts arise, elder mediators guide families in bridging differences on issues such as care, estate planning, and living arrangements for a sick parent. Siblings can also have conflicts about how and whether to keep Mom or Dad alive. As a mediator, Saposnek begins by getting to know the family. Seeks to build on your individual strengths. “Generally, a family has a distribution of abilities between siblings,” he said. “I extract from each one of them who is linked to community resources, who is a good researcher, who is good at math or finance, who could be a nurse or a doctor.” Read: Much of retirement planning is wishful thinking – What I’ve Learned After Three Years of Being Retired From there, seek everyone’s acceptance to have a designated sibling take on a certain task. He can write a binding agreement that specifies the goal, and how each family member will contribute their skills to move everyone toward that goal, and asks all parties to sign it. Then follow a structured process to guide them to solve problems. “I’m neutral,” he said. “I don’t make any decisions.” However, not all mediators maintain neutrality. Some take a more leadership role, suggesting solutions and highlighting options, such as home health care resources or senior care programs, for families to consider. There are pros and cons to both types of mediators. A neutral third party who encourages participants to gather their own information and forge their own solutions is better able to maintain credibility among all members of the family. Read: I have a seven-figure savings. Am I saving too much for my retirement? But a mediator who shares knowledge about elder care can educate everyone about what is available. Examining home services, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care models can be overwhelming for exhausted siblings who are already emotionally raw at the thought of the death of a parent. Nina Kohn, a law professor at Syracuse University, notes that mediators who lack a thorough understanding of community resources for elder care can be counterproductive. “Decisions can be made based on incomplete information that can have unintended consequences,” Kohn said. “They may not know all of their options, how to pay for care and who provides the care. This may have implications for the future ”, such as making a parent ineligible for Medicaid benefits. In addition, he cautions that older mediators run the risk of focusing too much on the opinions of siblings while ignoring the wishes of parents. “It is important to give everyone a voice at the table,” he said. “Others may attack an older person. Even a person with cognitive impairment has the right to make decisions about their life. “However, Kohn adds that an older mediator who opens channels of communication between family members can play a critical role.” There is a lot of stress around Elder care options and families face very difficult decisions, ”he said.“ Having an outside third party can provide real value in helping with those decisions. ”To find a good mediator, Mediate.com and the Academy of Professional Family Mediators offer online listings. Once you find a good mediator, the real work begins when the family confronts divergent opinions and looks for common ground. Even the best mediators can’t achieve a successful outcome if the grudge is too intense. Wise families don’t wait for end-of-life discussions to break out. Instead, they get together when mom and dad can express their preferences, share r inheritance plans and appeal to your adult children to get along and work together for the benefit of all.