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Mediation as a Lifeline for Caregivers

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As we once again come together with family and face tough decisions for the start of the coming year, it may not be so much the caregiving tasks that leave you down and out after the holidays. What may worry you the most is facing family members who don’t particularly get along, have differing opinions about how to care for a loved one, or have a hard time working together when it comes to caregiving. In fact, this can be one of the main sources of stress and holiday blues. It is tough to tackle all the duties that come along with caring for someone while trying to keep the peace at the same time. There are elder care services and resources that can help you with these issues through mediation.

As a geriatric care manager, I’ve found that mediation is extremely important and something that can sometimes be glossed over and overlooked. While there are people who specifically specialize in mediation, it is a necessary and crucial part of care management as well.  Developing and overseeing care plans as well as finding the right options for families who need it requires participating parties to communicate and work together. In fact, any care decision for an elderly loved one or a person with special needs warrant proper cooperation from everyone involved with that person’s care. This not only creates a healthy environment for the loved one but it allows for a smoother outcome when disagreements happen. This environment may also allow the loved one to have an easier time voicing their input on important decisions in their lives. 

The mediation process can help families work out disputes that hinder care progress, resolve fights about how to care for their loved one, and mitigate arguments about important care issues such as the possibility of an elder moving to an assisted or independent living community.  The important word here, however, is “help.” Geriatric care managers and mediators do not make decisions for the family. They themselves don’t resolve conflict. But instead, they serve as a lifeline and a resource for families who need another person involved, navigating through all the arguing and guiding all parties in the direction that is right for them. They facilitate and ensure that everyone listens to each other and that all voices are heard. As simple as that sounds, communication can be hard to repair if it has been broken for quite a while or if the family is settled into their usual ways of handling disputes. 

During the holidays, one wish from many caregivers might be for their family to simply get along for the sake of their loved one. It is the one key that will prevent significant amounts of unnecessary stress and worry.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  CCM is a leader in elder care services. Please email your questions to ccbishop@creativecasemanagement.com.

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