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Seattle Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Mediation for dementia elder care

Few things in life are as difficult or challenging as making health and home care decisions for a parent suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Siblings and loved ones may disagree whether the parent requires nursing home, assisted care living, in home service or another level of care.

Sometimes adult children and family members cannot resolve short- and long-term care issues on their own. Several other issues can arise when determining the best care for parent. It's not uncommon for parents and siblings to disagree about the best path forward. Fortunately, Washington State provides many caregiver sources, so families have many informational and support options for aging parents.

Your parents should have end-of-life care plans

As your parents age, some conversations that need to happen can prove to be rather difficult. It is understandable that you would want to skip over these but doing so can be disastrous down the road. Instead of putting this off, take the time to discuss these matters now so that you know the plans when the time comes.

One important thing to talk about is what sort of end-of-life care your parents want. There are two important documents that can ensure that your parent's wishes will be followed. One is an Advance Directive to Physicians, sometimes called a living will, and the other is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, sometimes called a Health Care Proxy.

Caring for aging parents can strengthen your family unit

Your parents have cared for you your entire life. As roles reverse, you likely want to do everything you can for them. While you try to make sure many of their needs are met, disagreements about your parents' care and financial situation could arise among family members.

Your siblings probably want to do all they can for your parents as well. But you may have different concerns about how to address the needs of your aging parents. It is not uncommon for family members to have disputes - especially during trying times, and in some cases, mediation might be necessary to help you determine the best course of action for you, your parents and your siblings.

How can you help protect your parents from identity theft?

Identity theft is a growing problem in the U.S. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were 371,061 cases of identity theft reported in 2017. The most common type of identity theft was credit card fraud, making up about one-third of the identity theft cases with 133,015 cases reported in the U.S.

The elderly are frequently victims of these crimes. They are often viewed as the perfect victims because they usually have substantial money saved for retirement and good credit scores. In addition, some aging Americans may not have as much internet savvy, so they could fall victim to online scams. Here are some ways you can help protect your parents from identity theft scams.

The epidemic of loneliness

More and more research is coming out that shows that loneliness is becoming an epidemic. Aging adults aren't exempt from this epidemic. In fact, our aging loved ones may be suffering from loneliness at higher than expected rates.

AARP put out a survey that indicates more than 42 million adults in the U.S. over the age 45 suffer from chronic loneliness, and that 17 percent of adults over 65 are isolated. While loneliness and isolation are different - the former being a subjective feeling and the latter being measurable - ultimately, the concerns of both are similar.

Watch out for holiday scams that target seniors

The holidays should be a time for family, joy and togetherness. Unfortunately, criminals know that the holidays are also a prime time for fraud and scams that target seniors. That is because a lot of money changes hands during the season. Between charitable giving, buying gifts and travel, scammers find many opportunities to cross our paths. Here are a few common scams to watch for during the holidays:

Can my aging parent still handle their own finances?

Your aging mother has stopped cleaning the house, your father forgets to eat unless he is reminded, or perhaps, someone took advantage of him in a financial scam. These are common symptoms of aging and you may be concerned that your loved one is developing dementia. How do you know when it is the right time to step in to take over the checkbook?

 

How mediators can help family caregivers

As a caregiver for your elderly parent, you may find yourself at odds with your siblings on occasion. Your brothers or sisters sometimes dispute important aspects of your parent's care, including medical treatment, living arrangements and caregiving responsibilities. Sometimes, the conflicts become so contentious that nothing is accomplished except making everyone angry.

When family members clash over the care of their senior parent, they may choose to work with a mediator. A mediator is a neutral professional who can help the parties in a dispute come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement. There are many ways that mediators can help caregivers.

Dealing with guilt: A family caregiver’s dilemma

As a parent or loved one ages, your role may slowly, or suddenly, change. It’s now the season of life where the care you were once provided is reciprocated. Whether your role as caregiver is in an official capacity, or you are simply assisting when needed, managing that on top of everything else can be overwhelming.

From concerns about spending too much or too little time with your parent to where they will get the best care, the end result is often the same: guilt. Here are some common scenarios and tips for alleviating the guilt that often accompanies the caregiver role.

How siblings can avoid fighting over caregiving disagreements

As your parents get older, it will become increasingly important for you and your siblings to come together and help your parents find the best caregiving options. Depending on the circumstances and the health of your parents, you may be able to hire in-home caregivers that allow your parents to stay in their own home. In other situations, an assisted living facility, adult family home, memory care community, or a skilled nursing facility may be more appropriate.

No matter what decision you and your parents ultimately make, it is helpful when siblings can be on the same page. Having these conversations, however, is not always easy. Family members may have different ideas about honoring autonomy versus enhancing safety. Tempers can flare. These conflicts can quickly become heated arguments that create lasting rifts within your family.