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Mediation in the Time of Elder Care

Updated: Mar 14

The average lifespan of an American today is 30 years longer than it was a century ago (1). However, unless we die in perfect health, we will still have a period of disease and disability before death. Although people are living longer, many are also suffering from crippling diseases such as arthritis and dementia. Nonlethal diseases are thus going to become increasingly important causes of disability and loss of function in old age (2).

Alzheimer's disease affects more than 6 million Americans, and that number is expected to rise to 13 million by 2050. An estimated 35 percent of people over 85 years of age have Alzheimer's dementia. These figures are from the Alzheimer’s Association, and the 2021 study can be found at https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures.

What are the best ways to take care of an elder relative with dementia? The topic can be contentious. Family members may disagree with no apparent solution in sight (3). Long-term care facilities provide care for more than 8.3 million people. But is this the best option for your family member? Mediation can provide a neutral environment for making tough decisions:

  • Is at-home care the best solution?

  • Can a son or daughter take the elderly parent into their home?

  • Is assisted living a more secure environment for the well-being of all parties, and the safety of the patient?

  • Is a fourth solution conceivable?

Mediation can help guide discussions on difficult family decisions, allowing all parties to voice their opinions and objections unbiasedly. Through mediation, potential compromise areas can be identified from which a lasting solution can be hammered out.

Lastly, one of the most difficult decisions a family will have to make is an end-of-life decision. A series of upcoming blog posts will examine bioethics mediation as it pertains to end-of-life decisions.

(1) https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2021/01/08/americans-are-living-30-years-longer-on-average--and-thats-a-big-plus-for-businesses#:~:text=Americans%20are%20living%20longer%20than,the%20Stanford%20Center%20on%20Longevity.

(2) https://www.prb.org/resources/americans-living-longer-not-necessarily-healthier-lives/

(3) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_43-508.pdf

This blog is meant to promote and increase awareness of Mediation, as well as to discuss the role that Mediation plays in conflict resolution. This blog series does not provide legal, medical, or psychological advice, and it should not be taken as a substitute for professional advice or treatment.

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