Elder Mediation

Every stage of life brings its own unique gifts and challenges.

In Elder Mediation, a Mediator or a team of co-Medaitors who have specific training in intergenerational dynamics and age-related issues, support the older person and their family in having important conversations and in making decisions that reflect the needs of all, but with an emphasis on the quality of life for the older person.

The Mediators provide a process and framework that enables the older person, their family, and where appropriate, key people such as care providers and healthcare experts, to address specific issues and concerns, and to devise appropriate outcomes that best reflect the needs and requirements of the older person, while sensitive to the needs of family members.

Change can be difficult and challenging, especially when precipitated by illness or a change in capacity, but Elder Mediation puts the older person at the centre of the dialogue so that any decisions that are made are based, not just on the needs of older person, but also their values and personal preferences.

At the centre of Elder Mediation is a commitment to the enablement and self-determination of the older person.

Key Principles of Elder Mediation

Elder Mediation is based on the key principles of respect, self-determination and enablement.

Elder Mediation supports independence and empowerment, assuming capacity and ensuring that the voice of the older person is heard, whether in person or, where necessary, through an advocate. The aim in Elder Mediation is to support the older person, their families and key others in exploring the needs and issues of the older person, and their family members, in a collaborative and creative way. Rather than selecting the most obvious proposal, decisions emerge through a process of collective deliberation, providing options that wouldn’t otherwise be realised.

Elder Mediation, as is the case with other forms of mediation, is based on voluntary participation and consensual agreement.

How Does Elder Mediation Work?

In any situation, how we engage determines the outcome.

In Elder Mediation, the Mediators actively support the family in exploring issues and concerns in a safe and confidential environment. The Elder Mediators help the family members to engage constructively, grounding the conversations in the personal needs of the individual family members, and in particular, the needs of the older person. Decisions emerge, sometimes in surprising new forms, from the creative engagement of those present.

Often there is a specific issue that precipitates Elder Mediation, for example: a diagnosis or progression of an age-related illness in the older person that has implications for their day-to-day living or their care needs; a change in the capacity or the availability of a primary caregiver; or an incident or event such as marriage or bereavement, that impacts on the interpersonal dynamics of the family.

The older person, a family member, or a key support person may make initial contact with the Elder Mediator.

Type of Situations Suitable for Elder Mediation

Elder Mediation provides a flexible framework that can be adapted to suit the unique requirements of each situation. It is equally effective in preventative and remedial cases.

Situations appropriate to Elder Mediation include:

  • Issues in relation to housing and living arrangements
  • Care issues
  • Healthcare planning
  • Financial management and consumer issues
  • Estate planning and probate matters
  • Guardianship and Powers of Attorney
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • End-of-life decisions

Elder Mediation provides active support within a process framework to support older people and their families in working through complex and often delicate issues, taking account of different perspectives to generate understandings so that the best outcomes can be achieved.

We live our lives within networks of relationships that are meaningful to us and from which we generate a sense of our own identity… Our actions have impacts on our relations with others, sometimes indirectly and unintentionally.

Sargent et al. (2011:347-348)