Conflict Resolution for Elders

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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…
Party self-determination. Mediator impartiality. Mediator neutrality. Sounds simple, right? Actually how these three principles are applied by a mediator can affect the outcome of a mediation. Does self-determination mean that a party has the right to accept a terrible settlement without any intervention by the mediator? Mediator impartiality means, at a minimum, that the mediator doesn’t have any conflicts or prior undisclosed relationships with any of the parties. But what about bias, conscious or unconscious, and how that affects the course of the mediation, especially when it’s a high-conflict dispute and the mediator needs to take an active role in…
In a study of more than 2000 actual cases in California in 2008 even the most experienced litigators frequently rejected settlement offers that turned out to have been better than the results they ultimately obtained at trial! Other studies have corroborated these results. Misplaced belief in their own experience and skills or the strength of their cases led these attorneys to have an overly optimistic belief in their ability to obtain a better result than they actually obtained. Many factors play into this overconfidence and misplaced optimism at the negotiating table, including black and white thinking about the “settlement pie,”…
Are you highly assertive and a take charge type of person when it comes to dealing with conflicts? Or do you tend to avoid conflicts at all costs? Do you defer to other’s needs and try to accommodate other’s interests at the price of advocating for your own needs? Perhaps you try to “split the difference” in any conflict to reach a resolution that is mutually satisfying to everyone. Or maybe you always try to collaborate with other and work hard to find solutions that everyone can agree with. These five distinct approaches to conflicts affect how parties come together,…
The resolution of a conflict requires people to be thinking clearly about what their options are. When a conflict kicks off the “fight or flight” response, people tend to experience what is known as “emotional flooding,” where their emotional response, or “primitive brain” takes over and their choices appear to be incredibly narrow. Clear thinking allows people to think strategically, to read verbal and non-verbal cues more accurately and to express themselves effectively. People in conflict must be able to move past the retaliation motive to focus on what is in their own self-interest. Emotional flooding and the “fight or…
I think we’ve all heard about the various stages of grief, beginning with denial, and moving through anger, ultimately arriving at acceptance. Some experts theorize that there are similar stages in some conflicts. For example, one party may deny that a marriage is over when divorce negotiations begin. You can’t even have a discussion about custody, visitation and who gets the house when one party to the marriage doesn’t accept that the marriage is over. Similarly, in conflicts involving other adult family members, one party may deny that there is a problem, or even that they themselves are part of…
Emotions play a huge part in conflicts. That should seem obvious but when we’re in the midst of a conflict it may be hard to see and harder to understand the impact of our emotions. The emotions we experience when we’re involved in a conflict can have a powerful effect on the resolution process. When we’re still feeling raw from a perceived or even an imagined slight the possibility of engaging in a resolution process may seem frightening. Besides, we may feel like the other person deserves to be punished just a little bit more. If we think we’re completely…
Have you heard of the longevity economy? If you’re over 50 you’re one of more than 1.6 billion people worldwide who are in this demographic. And the number of us in that age bracket is expected to nearly double to 3.2 billion people by 2050 according to a recent report by Oxford Economics published by AARP. Why is this important? Because this “cohort” will be driving every segment of the economy, defying myths and stereotypes about aging and prosperity. In the U.S. alone there are 111 million of us! Together we create $7.6 trillion in economic activity, buying, working and…
Current or anticipated changes in the life of a family elder can trigger all sorts of conflicts in the family. Changes such as the death of a spouse, the elder’s declining health and the health and safety concerns that may raise, plus issues around independence, self-determination, and safety of the elder and others are classic triggering events. A change in relationships can also trigger family conflict. Changes such as a subsequent marriage, grandparent relationships and caregiver issues are quite common flashpoints. Then there are the financial issues that arise: tax and estate planning, the sale of a house or other…
Presented a basic intro to mediation for elders to the Committee on Legal Problems of the Aging. Definitions, techniques, important issues relevant to problem-solving for elders. Check out my profile on linkedin for access to the slides. We had a lot of fun with the role play and were able to dramatize the types of issues facing elders that are ripe for mediation. https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcyeinhorn/detail/recent-activity/shares/