What is Elder Mediation?

While mediators have been used for years to help divorcing couples sort out legal and financial disagreements and avoid court battles, elder care mediation is a relatively new and specialized field designed to help families resolve disputes that are related to aging parents or other elderly relatives.

Family disagreements over an ill or elderly parent's caregiving needs, living arrangements, financial decisions and medical care are some of the many issues that an elder care mediator can help with. But don't confuse this with family or group therapy.

Mediation is only about decision-making, not feelings and emotions.

The job of an elder mediator is to step in as a neutral third party to help ease family tensions, listen to everyone's concerns, hash out disagreements and misunderstandings and help your family make decisions that are acceptable to everyone.

Good mediators can also assist your family in identifying experts such as estate-planners, geriatric care managers, or health care or financial professionals who can supply important information for family decision making.

Your family also needs to know that the mediation process is completely confidential and voluntary, and can take anywhere from a few hours to several meetings depending on the complexity of your issues. And if some family members live far away, a speaker phone or webcam can be used to bring everyone together.

If you're interested in hiring a private elder care mediator, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to more than $400 per hour depending on where you live and who you choose. Or, you may be able to get help through a nonprofit mediation service which charges little to nothing.

Most elder mediators are attorneys, social workers, counselors or other professionals who are trained in mediation and conflict resolution.

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