Mediators Help Families Settle Living Wills, Other End-of-Life Issues

Dec 16, 2010 - LegalZoom News Sources
Mediators Help Families Settle Living Wills, Other End-of-Life Issues

A growing number of families dealing with difficult end-of-life issues are turning to mediators to help settle disputes over living wills, estates and other problems, reports the Washington Post.

One elder care mediator told the source of intense family feuds stemming from arguments over the state of older relatives.

"I think before mediation, there were just fights," she said. "People are starting to see that there is an alternative."

She described her most memorable case as one in which the three adult children of a woman in a persistent vegetative state could not agree on a course of action because their mother had no living will. After mediation helped them analyze their disagreement and consider what their mother would want, they decided to withdraw life support and allow their mother to die.

Others, however, warned that people seeking the help of elder care mediators should take caution.

"Just about anyone can hang out a shingle and say they're an elder mediator," Penny Hommel, co-director of the non-profit Center for Social Gerontology, told the source. "Many mediators who don't have a lot of training see guardianship as beneficent and are not sensitive to the older person having a voice."