Elder Mediation Resolves Family Conflicts

“My daughter is insisting I move in with her,” complains Martha. “She just wants to control my life and take away my freedom,” she continues.

Jenny, Martha’s daughter, worries that her mother keeps falling, and fears one day she will break her hip or hit her head.

“I’ll take my sister to court before I will let her get control of mom and my inheritance,” exclaims Jim about Jenny’s desire to move her mother in with her.

It is amazing how quickly formerly cordial relationships between family members can sour when the family has to deal with the care of elderly parents or inheritance at their death. Sometimes the consequence of dealing with the final years of elderly parents can break families apart and create long-lasting animosity.

A lot of times it is a “she said, he said” situation with neither party really understanding what the elder person needs or wants.

Some families find it hard to communicate with each other when their parent is in need of care. Perhaps when they grew up together they were not accustomed to come together as parents and children to work out problems. And now those children are older and taking care of parents and they don’t have this family council strategy to rely on. It may seem unnatural to them. But that is often exactly what is needed, especially in situations where perhaps one child is caring for the parents and the others are left out of the loop.

Children all have a common bond to their parents and, as a result, a common obligation or responsibility to each other. When disagreements arise, suspicions begin to grow. Suspicions or distrust often lead to anger and the anger often leads to severing the channels of communication between family members. This can occur between parent and child or between siblings or between all of them.

It is often at this point that a neutral third party can come in and repair the damage that has been done and help correct the problems that have come about because of the disagreement.

A practitioner experienced in elder mediation is a perfect choice for solving disagreements due to issues with the elderly.


Mediation is a non-adversarial approach to solving disputes. Mediation is a process of bringing two or more disputing parties together and having them mutually negotiate a solution that is acceptable to everyone involved. The mediator is not a judge and does not render a decision but is there to make sure that communication flows freely between the parties. Elder Mediators are trained in the art of negotiating resolutions between elderly parents and family members.

Mediation can achieve results that the family by itself may not be capable of realizing or have the expertise of achieving. Here are some reasons why Elder Mediation can be so valuable.

– A trained expert on communication gives the family a perspective it could not gain by meeting together on its own;
– All family members involved meet and prevent problems from arising by anticipating situations that may cause disputes;
– A mediator can invite experts such as care managers or other care providers into the meeting to educate the family and provide a new perspective;
– Parents can focus on their abilities rather than their limitations;
– Children can come up with and consider options not thought of previously;
– Uninvolved family members are encouraged to become involved;
– Parents are encouraged to express wishes and desires that may have previously gone unuttered;
– A mediator can challenge family members in a non-threatening manner and make them take responsibility for their actions;
– Mediation promotes consensus of all involved which creates a much higher rate of compliance with the plan than with any other process;
– Mediation requires a written plan with specific responsibilities which makes compliance feasible.

 There are many mediators in Virginia providing expertise in “Elder Mediation” to help seniors and their families. You will also find that a mediator may have a helpful professional accreditation such as Geriatric Care Manager, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Clinical Social Worker, or Certified Mediator.

In choosing a mediator, consider the needs of the family. Is there a need for a medical assessment to determine the type of care? Are legal concerns with inheritance or family business or power of attorney the main need? Perhaps just bringing the family together to communicate on what needs to be done and who will do it is the agenda for now.

In one case, after months of dispute with her parents over their health and safety issues, a daughter enlisted the service of a professional care manager mediator.

“Bringing a neutral person with a professional and compassionate attitude into our disputes was the best thing for all involved,” the daughter recalled. “My parents shared their concerns and listened with acceptance to mine. All of a sudden we could communicate and work out a plan that they could live with and I could relax knowing they were safe.”

We at the Farr Law Firm would be happy to assist you with further questions, and we’re happy to offer referrals to professionals who can provide your family with appropriate Elder Mediation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.