Elder mediation is a process by which families can address such challenges as health care planning, financial, and estate issues, and intergenerational and sibling issues. Mediators trained in this issue have knowledge of elder issues and are uniquely trained to allow the voice of the person at the centre of the issue to be heard.
Elder Mediation is a focused, respectful process – usually multi-party, multi-issue and intergenerational – whereby a trained Elder Mediator ensures, as much as possible, that all who need to be are present in the mediation. The mediator facilitates discussions focusing on present strengths and assists participants in exploring any issues or concerns. This form of mediation often involves many people related to the issues, such as family members, caregivers, organizations, agencies and a variety of service providers and networks.
Elder Mediation is based on a wellness model that promotes a person-centred approach for all participants; it is mindful of the older person(s) while respecting the rights of each person participating. Regardless of the numbers present, each person is unique with his or her own narrative, intrinsic value, strengths and weaknesses. Through the Elder Mediation lens, aging is viewed as part of a continuing process of development and change, rather than just a period of physical and cognitive decline.
The specialty of Elder Mediation has a preventive component. Where people know about the service and are referred early enough, conflict can be prevented or minimized. Elder Mediation can also enable participants and families to plan in advance – for example in relation to potential care requirements – thereby ensuring that the voice of the older person is included in future decisions. Elder Mediation can reduce the overall stress in family systems and has been shown to have health and wellness implications, enhancing the functionality of the family support network, heightening interpersonal communications and often delaying the need for institutional care. Where institutional care is involved, Elder Mediation can facilitate conversations between the older person, family members and care/service providers.
Many national organizations are aware of the value of Elder Mediation and support the inclusion of Elder Mediation as part of a continuum of quality care. However, they must be confident that the Elder Mediators, to whom they are referring, are informed and appropriately qualified in mediation practices and processes, and knowledgeable of, and sensitized to, aging and age-related issues.
An Elder Mediator is a person who is professionally trained in Elder Mediation theories and practices along with its preventive and wellness aspects. The Elder Mediator facilitates communication among the participants and assists them toward mutually beneficial outcomes.
Issues that can benefit from elder mediation include:
- housing and living arrangements
- health care (at home, in the hospital, or in continuing care and long-term care communities)
- medical decisions
- nursing home decisions
- safety and environment
- abuse and neglect
- care for the caregiver as well as caregiver burden
- relationship concerns (this includes intergenerational relationships as well as new marriages and stepfamily situations)
- religious issues
- holiday schedules
- financial concerns
- estate planning
- family business
- end of life issues
Elder Mediation Committee
The objectives of this Committee include:
- promoting the independence and well-being of older adults in Canada by encouraging the use of affordable mediation services
- providing education, training and resources to elder mediators nationally
- supporting the development of certification programs and standards for elder mediators nationally
- helping certified elder mediators maintain their skills through continuing education programs with a focus on developments that affect older adults
- distributing information on aging-related topics, with a focus on the use of elder mediation
- providing opportunities for networking and information sharing between elder mediators, and individuals and organizations interested in elder mediation.