Estates practitioners are nearly unanimous in their praise of mediation as a process especially well suited to the emotional strain of estate, trust and capacity litigation. And as a sub-specialty of mediation, "elder mediation" is focused on helping families and caregivers (and their advisers) forge a consensus about elder care.
There is certainly a demand: The New York Times refers to a 2001 study published in Conflict Resolution Quarterly which found that "close to 40 percent of adult children caring for a parent described ‘serious conflict’ with a sibling, frequently the result of one sibling shouldering the bulk of caregiving responsibility."
Elder mediators may benefit from a skillset that goes beyond mediation training and experience to include such subjects as the physical and mental effects of aging and how to communicate effectively with the elderly. As was initially the case with "Elder Law", the United States is ahead of Canada in defining Elder Mediation as a distinct practice area. Elder Care Mediators in Fort Wayne, Ind., for example, has trained 80 elder mediators nationwide. The National Eldercare Mediation Network posts profiles of elder mediators in all 50 states. Another Web site, Mediate.com, also allows prospective clients to search elder mediators by state.
In Ontario, when personal care of an incapable senior is in issue, the best bet is to go with a mediator who has had experience mediating guardianship disputes and who appreciates the subtleties of the personal dynamics inherent in sibling relationships.
David M. Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith.