Consider this scenario. Your parent has Alzheimer’s disease, siblings refuse to talk to one another, your children are too busy to lend a helping hand – and all the caregiving duties have been left to you. What do you do? Call an elder mediator.
Elder Mediation is a new concept in Australia, but it is a fast-growing industry in the USA and Canada, where Elder Mediation has been used to benefit families in dispute since the early 1990s. It is similar to other forms of mediation where an independent and unbiased person assists to resolve family disputes surrounding the care of an ageing loved one. Issues dealing with management of finances, making health and lifestyle decisions, should the elder person continue to drive, who is to be the elder’s carer are just some of the matters that can be discussed at mediation.
Judy M. Beranger, an elder mediator in St. John’s, Nfld has been facilitating these processes since the early 1990s, when she noticed many families dealing with Alzheimer’s were being referred to counselling. “The families needed a conversation more than they needed counselling,” she says. Elder mediation was virtually unheard of in North America.
Elder mediators bring together circles of care — anyone from brothers or daughters to best friends or church colleagues — to have essential yet difficult conversations in a balanced, focused fashion. The ideal results are improved communication, evenly divided responsibilities, and the best possible care for the loved one.
“[Elder mediation] is just leaving the embryonic stage in many senses,” Beranger says. “But with our aging population, it’s going to change the face of health care as we know it.”
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Catherine Henry Partner’s Lyn Lucas has specialist training in Elder Mediation and is available for your enquiries.