When a parent gets older and begins to need additional care, it can create a lot of stress within a family. Sometimes, it can create conflicts and misunderstandings between family members as well.

For example, siblings might argue over what’s best for an aging parent. Or if one family member is doing the bulk of the care, it can lead to resentment within the family, especially if the person providing the care is also receiving compensation for the work.

One way to deal with these issues is with an elder mediator. A mediator doesn’t make any decisions and doesn’t take sides. Instead, the mediator listens to the issues, keeps the family focused on shared goals, encourages consideration of all the options, and helps clear up misunderstandings and address hurt feelings. Through this process, a family can often come up with new answers to problems or new ways of resolving conflicts. The idea is not to have a winner or loser, but to have a solution that everyone is happy with.

Some typical scenarios addressed by elder mediators include:

In family situations where there’s conflict, parents often have a tendency to tell each child what the child wants to hear, in order to keep peace and reduce tensions. But doing so generally only increases the level of discord and hurt feelings in the long run. Addressing the issues in a non-threatening way with the help of an experienced mediator can clear the air and lead to long-term family harmony.