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.

Family and sibling conflicts over care plans

In many cases, adult children wait too long to create a care plan, and the parent with dementia can no longer care for him or herself. Then the family must quickly decide how to accommodate a parent’s declined medical condition. Families should be proactive and develop a care plan for an elderly parent before it needs to be put into action. With adequate time and resources, a family can make wiser and more informed care decisions for short- and long-term care.

When one sibling cannot agree to the best care program or other issues for the parent, mediation is often the best way to resolve the disagreements. You don’t want these disagreements to create deep divisions within your family. Instead, your family should pull together and support each other during this demanding time.

Reasons for elder mediation

  • Short term and long-term care plans
  • Sibling care responsibilities
  • Transportation needs for parents
  • Estate disputes
  • Trust and will issues

Mediation sessions

Family members need to select a mediator, who will serve the best interests and goals of the family. When searching for a mediator, you should select one who has experience in dementia and elder care cases. A mediator, who will act as a neutral third-party facilitator, is often an attorney, former judge or dementia care professional.

An experienced and skilled mediator will set the agenda, moderate the discussion and often reveal new options. All involved should be able to openly discuss all relevant issues, reach a suitable agreement and get the best care possible for the ailing parent. In many cases, siblings, spouses and others can resolve their matters and reach an agreement after a two- to three-hour mediation sessions.But in other cases, the disputing parties need a subsequent session.

Mediation outcomes

The family members involved in the mediation need to determine the best manner to document the agreement. For some families, all family members and loved ones make a verbal agreement. However, this can be lead to future disagreements and conflict because the terms and aspects are not in writing. Other families seek a formal memorandum of understanding, so that all relevant aspects agreed upon in the meeting are in a document. Others may require a written contract, so all family members’ roles are clearly stated in the agreement.