Conflict Resolution for Elders

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When you’re ready to hire a mediator the mediator will likely present everyone who is coming to the mediation with an agreement to sign before the mediation begins. For non-lawyers this written contract might appear to have a lot of legal terms that might make it seem like you need a lawyer to advise you before you sign on so I thought I’d point out the key terms you’re likely to see in the mediator’s agreement to make this next step a little less imposing. Typically the agreement with the mediator will name everyone who intends to participate in the…
After a family member contacts the mediator the mediator will reach out to the other family members who are concerned about the care and well-being of an elder in their lives and might want to be involved in the conflict resolution process. In this first contact the mediator will explain the basics of how mediation works and begin to discuss with each family member separately what their perspective is on the problem and what they would like to see happen. In this introductory call the mediator will inquire about each person’s interests as well as what their understanding is of…
For those who are still new to the process mediation is a confidential, voluntary conflict resolution process that is often more economical and more efficient than a lawsuit and often the only appropriate method for resolving disputes that shouldn’t be in court for a variety of reasons. How it works is that anyone can reach out to a mediator to start the ball rolling when there is a conflict brewing between family members. Let’s call that person the “whistleblower.” The mediator will have an in-depth discussion with the whistleblower about the principles that govern mediation and the process and fees…
No one wants to acknowledge that some people take advantage of the elderly but mediators who meet with families in conflict need to be on the lookout for anyone who might be exerting undue influence over an elder’s decisions and not ignore a huge elephant in the room. Elder abuse can take many forms but has certain common indicators: is the elder vulnerable with a reduced ability to resist persuasion; is the perpetrator in a position of power over the elder; has the perpetrator overpowered the will of the elder; and is the outcome of this influence unfair or improper.…
Conflict Coaching Can Help A client recently described a troubling situation with her elderly mother. Mom is living alone with the help of an aide but is not doing well and the client needs to consider next steps. Although there are multiple adult siblings, only the client is actively engaged in taking care of mom and the other siblings seem to be quite content with that arrangement. The choices for Mom are to stay where she is or to relocate to a facility that could meet her needs as those needs evolve. The conflict for the client is an internal…
F.A.Q. #2: How can mediation help when family members don’t approve of the decisions an elder is making? A: Sometimes just have a neutral, disinterested person in the room helps people navigate their way through difficult conversations. The mediator encourages agreement on RESPECT. Everyone will be treated with respect at the mediation even if there’s a long history of disagreement between family members.…
If you’re like me, sometimes you just don’t know where to begin when trying to solve a thorny problem. A dear friend used to say, “Just start in the middle, Marcy.” So in the spirit of starting anywhere here are some questions that people often ask when inquiring about elder mediation, along with some straightforward answers: FAQ 1: What kinds of conflicts do seniors have? A: Whenever an elder needs to make a decision about quality of life, care or financial planning people affected by the decision may have very strong opinions about the elder’s choices. When people with strong…
Please join me for this free webinar on “Building a Roadmap for Senior Care Decision-Making” on March 23, 2021, 11 a.m. EDT when I will join a panel of elder care experts to discuss conflict resolution for elders during the care-planning process. Here’s the link: www.SchnepsMedia.com/webinars Be sure to pre-register as space is limited!…
What could be worse than a loved one, and a 6th degree heir to the throne, cutting you off and leaving the country for good when you and the Duke are in your 90’s? I’m sure I could have helped. Dear Queen; did you ever hear of mediation? It’s a confidential process (I know how important that is to you) facilitated by a trained neutral facilitator (as in no biases towards anyone) and is economical (I’m pretty sure that’s an issue for you too) and efficient. With the right mediator, family legacy and inheritance planning issues can be discussed in…
Some decisions that elders have to make are appropriate for mediation. Issues surrounding care, continued autonomy or legal decisions involving assets are entirely appropriate for mediation. When it comes to decisions about an elder’s care, family members may need to be involved in deciding whether the elder will stay at home, move to a family member’s home or relocate to an assisted living residence or a nursing home. While each family member may have a different opinion on what would be best for the elder, mediation provides a forum for people to air their opinions with the goal of working…
A recent virtual lecture by Khalid Rehman, MD given to the Association for Conflict Resolution of Greater New York, addressed the sensitive topic of mediating end-of-life discussions. Dr. Rehman drew on his years of experience counseling patients and shared some of his wisdom with the audience. He started off offering this sage advice: “We’ve had difficult discussions all our life and end-of-life discussions should be no different.” But that is probably easier said than done for most of us. A mediator can calm down the temperature in these difficult discussions but any mediation should take place way before the end-of-life…
People often ask what to look for in a mediator so I thought I’d share the suggested questions that the New York Court website lists as a good place to start: What to Ask a Mediator 1. Tell me about your background and areas of expertise. 2. Do you have experience mediating a case like mine? 3. How many sessions does it take? How long are the sessions? 4. What kind of training have you had, and when was it? 5. What kind, and how much mediation experience do you have? 6. How many cases have you mediated? 7. What…
I frequently run workshops to introduce elders and their families to problem-solving through mediation. One of the practice modules we use in the workshop involves a discussion about helping an elder decide whether or when to give up their car keys. Participants quickly realize that it is a delicate balancing act between caring about the welfare of the elder and people who might get hurt by their driving and the elder’s need for autonomy and independence. In a recent post on the Long Island Alzheimer and Dementia website, author @DanaCastoria discusses the sensitive issues that need to be considered when…
Negotiation is always about steering a relationship, and the first relationship we need to steer is the one we have with ourselves. Thinking about what has gone right in the past can be incredibly effective in helping us to be creative in solving the problem before us now. Are we asking the right question when we go into a negotiation? Apple’s ipod was enormously successful but Steve Jobs noticed how many devices people were handling and realized he had solved the wrong problem! The solution of course changed our lives. Asking someone an open question can open the door to…
As we age we need to make decisions about so many things we used to take for granted. Whether we’ve noticed a change in our comfort level driving long distances or in unfamiliar places, changes in our physical strength and endurance, or the need to shift assets around to secure our health and well-being over the long-haul, important decisions can trigger difficult conversations with our loved ones, who may have very different ideas about what the best course of action is in any of these situations. Mediation is a confidential conversation facilitated by a professional mediator who has been trained…