Elder mediation in Ireland is based on an empowerment model of mediation. “Nothing about you without you” is the ideal for the elderly, who fear being railroaded into decisions about where they live, about their finances, how they live their daily lives, at a time when they are perhaps feeling disenfranchised.
There are however a number of decisions which need to be made. Getting the agreement of the older person, and other affected people, such as sons and daughters, spouses, step-children etc. can be a minefield. And yet it is essential that these decisions are made in order to do the right thing for the older person, and for the people who are most affected by the caring duties.
The range of decisions to be made can include:
- Decisions about living arrangements
- Organising support and care at home
- Making decisions after a diagnosis of dementia
- Handling contentious issues while in Nursing Home care
- Decisions about Financial Planning
- Planning business/farm succession
- Decisions about Legal Planning – Enduring Power of Attorney and Will
- End of Life Decisions
- The practicalities of daily life, personal care, food, heat, comfort, pets etc.
Example of Elder Mediation
Let’s say your mother’s dementia is progressing and you view your sister’s care for your mother inadequate. Yet, for some reason, you are afraid to discuss the matter with your family. Perhaps, as children, your sister was one tough cookie and you never won an argument with her. Or the sight of your mother’s condition scares you so much that you can’t begin a conversation about her care. So instead of doing something you sit in silence and watch things deteriorate.
Having these much-needed family conversations is so important for you, your mother and for your family relationships. Yet, the fear keeps you silent until a crisis happens and then the family is in chaos and unable to arrive at the best decision.
Though this is a worst case scenario, the assistance of a mediator trained in elder mediation to negotiate the issues with other family members can transform the situation from an intractable conflict to a shared responsibility, with roles ascribed in an agreed manner. Communication channels are opened up, and agreed on.