What are approximate costs for care mediation?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have 2 siblings and live out of state from them and my mother. My mother has been living in independent living in a senior complex. She has cancer and other health problems. Recently her memory has been deteriorating and I am concerned about her living alone. Her financial situation is also not good, though she does have a pension and social security. My siblings have strained her resources and now when she needs her funds for additional care they are gone. I would like to talk to them about making a plan, but we can't get anywhere on our own, I think we need an intermediary.

Expert Answers

Linda Adler is the director of Pathfinders Medical in Palo Alto, California. She has dedicated her professional life to helping patients and their families find optimal ways to deal with medical challenges. She has worked in all facets of the medical establishment, including primary care, research, and policy settings at UCSF, Stanford, and Kaiser Permanente. Her current focus at Pathfinders includes crisis management, mediation, and advocacy.

Hello there,

I'm so glad you recognize the importance of getting help with your situation! And the good news is that there are many options for finding this kind of assistance. Since you didn't state what area of the country you live in, I can't provide specific information, as services do vary, but I can give you some good tips as to how to proceed.

First, you can call on a few different kinds of professionals for help. Good resources include geriatric care managers, private professional healthcare advocates, or private mediators. Take a look at the following websites to locate one of these professionals in your area: http://www.caremanager.org/; www.nahac.com; or http://www.professionalfamilymediators.org/.

As for price, there will be a range, so be sure to be clear with whomever you speak to about what you are able to afford. Some companies work on a sliding scale, others may even provide some services for free. Tell them that the siblings aren't all in the same geographic area and see if they provide video conferencing.

Finally, if there's a social worker or geriatric care manager on staff where you mother is living, you might want to speak with them first to get some information as to what other local services might be available.

Much good luck to you and your family going forward.

Community Answers

Frederick hertz answered...

One of the most difficult challenges here is how to establish communication when there is distance between siblings. I recently worked with a family facing a similar situation, and they found a mediator in one sibling's town who was willing to conduct the mediation by telephone. That can be tricky, but a skillful mediator can first talk separately with each party, and then when there is a group conversation it is easier to distinguish the varying voices.

It's important that you pay a lot of attention to how you propose using a mediator. In that instance one sibling wrote a considerate and careful email, talking about the services of a mediator, and mentioning the person who had suggested the mediator in the hope that it would add credibility to the suggestion. One of the great difficulties here, of course, is that most private mediators don't work for free, and if your family has limited circumstances this may be especially difficult. For that reason the suggestion of turning to social workers - perhaps someone in a religious community - is a good one. The key is getting your siblings to see that working together on a coordinated plan is the best way to go.