Elder Mediation (sometimes called “elder care mediation”) uses the same principles that mediation does in other contexts. Participation is voluntary, the sessions are confidential, and the mediator is a trained neutral who has no stake in the outcome.
The focus is on decisions and communications directly involving the elderly and their loved ones. Usually, but not always, the people involved are adult siblings and their parents. Others, especially other family members, may be affected by conflict, whether or not it is acknowledged.
Issues typically relate to caregiving, financial planning, medical decisions, driving and other safety concerns, and/or legal authority (power of attorney, health care agent, etc.)
In the past, options could seem to be limited to denial of the conflict, estrangement and rejection of one or more in the family, or litigation.
Lifelong patterns of behavior and perceived or real wrongs committed decades ago can inhibit the ability of family members to work out a resolution on their own.
Elder mediation supports respect, dignity, and the elder’s participation in decision-making to the extent possible and desired by the elder.
Goals may include:
Ensuring participation in the process for those affected by giving voice to their concerns
Resolution of a particular pressing issue (e.g. sale of a house, caregiving, a medical decision)
Creation of a communications plan for the future
Some families seek elder mediation on their own. Professionals such as attorneys, geriatric care managers, and financial advisors may also refer families to elder mediation. Mediation does not take the place of the working relationship these professionals have with their clients, but can often assist them to better serve their clients’ needs.