Alternative Dispute Resolution for Seniors and Their Families – Blog Series Part 2

Continuing on in the 3-part series: Alternative Dispute Resolution for Seniors and Their Families, we are building off the first part where we discussed why a family would need to resolve a dispute and the common disputes that arise when family members are caregivers. This week we will go over when disputes need to be addressed and who should be involved in resolving those disputes. There are many reasons disputes might arise among families that act as caregivers. It is important to assess your situation carefully when considering which steps are next in your process. In some cases, consulting with a family law or elder law attorney may be necessary.

Part 2: When do issues and disputes need to be addressed?

RIGHT NOW. Denial among family members is common and understandable, but does not accomplish anything.   Families may try, but they cannot go around the problem.  It must be addressed head on. Some people operate on the assumption that they just have to get through today, but that isn’t enough. Decisions need to be made in a calmer atmosphere, with more options available, before a crisis arises. Decisions that are made during a crisis are usually not good.  They are forced and can lead to additional problems down the line.

A good example is trying to decide whether a loved one needs to leave their home.  If made in advance there are options to consider.  If the family waits for a crisis, like a fall or health emergency, the options and the decision are forced.

Who should be involved?

Everyone with a stake in the family decision needs to be involved. Children, spouses, siblings, the person that needs to be cared for, everyone should be involved. You should not shut out anyone.  However, not everyone should be equally involved. Careful consideration is needed.  This is where advance planning with a mediator, care manager, or other third party can be helpful.