You know the saying:
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"
It is true about many things in life, but it is particularly true when it comes to conflict.
This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Farmington Community Care Fair in Unionville, Connecticut. I spoke with so many wonderful seniors, their families, and professionals in our community who serve and care for them. On more than one occasion, I heard something that made me a bit sad. "Oh, I know someone who could have used your help, but now it's really too late." In one case, the family is in court fighting over who will make decisions for their aging family member. We never imagine it will get that far, until it does.
It is never too late to try mediation but getting involved early can make all the difference.
Conflict resolution starts with conflict prevention!
So how do we prevent conflict?
1. Communicate. Talk to your loved ones openly, even about the difficult topics. Sometimes we would rather avoid talking about things that make us uncomfortable, but that only creates conflict later. Don't kick the can down the road. Invest in a peaceful, conflict-free future by having a family meeting with a trained mediator, social worker, or clergy member.
2. Connect. Maintaining connections to our communities and the people around us is vitally important. Without support, our options become less and our autonomy is diminished.
2. Decide. Many conflicts stem from simply not knowing what we want. Working together to make decisions helps us to create a clear path forward. If you are feeling overwhelmed by decisions around aging, illness, and disability, it can be very helpful to talk it through - whether it's with a loved one, counselor, mediator, or friend.
4. Plan. Once you know what path you want to take, you need a plan to make it happen. That can mean anything from saving for the future to working with an attorney to put a legal plan in place.
5. Ask for help. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help. Everyone faces conflict and indecision in life! But you don't have to go it alone. Know that there are resources out there to help. You only have to ask.