Enhancing Family Decision Making Through Elder Mediation

Enhancing Family Decision Making Through Elder Mediation

By Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq.


Families frequently avoid making decisions when they are faced with disagreements and/or lack of information involving an aged loved one. Unfortunately, this avoidance can result in significant financial and emotional costs.

Elder mediation is a cooperative method to find the best possible resolution to the major life challenges inherent in the aging process. In elder mediation, all family members, including the parents, voluntarily agree to the process, and agree to the inclusion of any other participants. They might choose to include the children’s spouses, grandchildren, other relatives, parents’ friends, caregivers, medical providers, pastors and lawyers.

The major life changes that are most frequently addressed in elder mediation stem from four main issues: 1) housing changes, 2) loss of financial control, 3) issues surrounding caregiving, and 4) family finances involving adult children.

Families need to make financial, legal, and emotional decisions in order to work through this life transition. Making it through the senior years requires addressing questions such as: How should money be allocated? What type of trust should I create? and Who should help with caregiving? All too often, these decisions are made in the face of family disagreement, difficulty, and geographical distance. The formalized yet fluid decision-making process of elder mediation helps individuals to make the necessary decisions to meet aging challenges. The specialty of Elder Mediation focuses on establishing quality elder care, minimizing family conflict, and increasing wise financial planning.

What Does A Elder Mediator Do?

An elder mediator:

  • is a neutral third party who helps the family with appropriate processes by which consensus can be reached on decisions regarding eldercare.
  • helps clear up misunderstandings, encourages open exchanges of information and ideas, and keeps the family “on track”.
  • helps family members heal hurt feelings and avoid blame and self-pity.
  • provides a mechanism for future modifications of the elderlaw plans as the need arises.
  • involves the parents in the process, focusing on their capabilities rather than their perceived inabilities. Attorneys often deal exclusively with a guardian or attorney-in-fact, but in mediation, parents can be included fully or to the extent possible.
  • encourages family members to focus on the best interest of their parents.
  • helps the family members consider as many options as possible, and
  • helps them evaluate options while leaving the decision-making to the family.

Elder mediation provides a safe place for respectful, civilized conversation and brings family members and professionals together to address the major life changes inherent in this the aging process. End of article icon.


For additional information regarding Family Decision Making Through Elder Mediation, call us at 908-232-7400 or click here to contact us online.