As we reflect on our lives over the past two years, we have navigated through an up and down pandemic, we have experienced the introduction of a controversial vaccine, we have seen the death toll throughout America skyrocket and touch families who are now experiencing unbelievable grief and sorrow, and now we are faced with war and the threat of nuclear warfare. Through the media, we have seen firsthand the separation of families who are fighting to stay free and alive. We have seen their desperate attempts to keep their family intact and the sacrifices they are making to preserve their freedom and keep their family intact.
So why does this matter in the world of Elder Law and Mediation? Because we are in the business of maintaining our loved one’s dignity and rights and keeping the family unit together. Elder mediation functions under the premise that keeping the family intact is important, regardless of differences or conflict. That above all else, the family unit must go on and remain a unit once a loved one is gone. Overcoming obstacles and differences is key to this goal.
We know for sure that we are living longer, and that we may need care to assist us as we age. We also know that the cost of care is skyrocketing while the numbers of caregivers and health care workers are decreasing at a staggering rate. Getting the care that we need is the number one challenge we face as we age.
This generation is also faced with the challenge of caring for their parents while trying to provide for their own family and their needs. There are very few families that are not touched with the issue of finances, where to live, where to get professional help, how to get government support while navigating the bureaucracy. They are faced with complicated end of life issues and questions, emotional distress, and lastly but most importantly, caring for themselves. During this process, we are reevaluating family values and history. We are looking at family dynamics and discovering ways to keep the family structure in place. We long for our families to be together again and we see firsthand how devastating the separation of family members can be.
Samuel Jackson, in a recent interview with CBS “Sunday Morning” show talked about his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s for over 10 years and in the end, was not even able to speak his name. He said he would give anything to be able to sit down with her just one last time to tell her how much he loved her and thank her for all she had done for him that lead to his success. He longed for just a few more minutes with her.
We all have family history which includes disagreements, conflict, and differing opinions within our families. We don’t and can’t agree on every issue because we are each an individual with thoughts and feelings of our own. We have had different experiences and reactions to those experiences, but we all need a safe place to reveal and resolve those issues outside of a court room or in front of a judge, who does not know our families at all. And even when we are just trying to problem solve, we sometimes need someone to guide us through the process. Mediation gives us that “safe place” to air our desires, wishes, and hurts. To ultimately come to an agreement among all parties where all families can maintain “togetherness”, respecting the wishes of the elderly, and giving families the opportunity to stay as a family unit while still having different feelings and goals.
Over the next few months, we will be exploring when and how we can use the services of mediation in our family situations. What is it, how it works, and determining if it is appropriate for your situation, will be questions that we answer. In the meantime, if your family is experiencing difficulties or if you think mediation could help you, feel free to contact us to discuss your situation and perhaps schedule an appointment.
Applegate and Dillman is dedicated to preserving family unity, and we are committed to helping you do that. Please give us a call, we are here to help.
Carol Applegate, JD, RN & Registered Mediation