How to begin the conversation?
Through Intergenerational Mediation (IM), also known as Elder Mediation, families can discuss the current situation. A conflict might arise over the care of an elderly parent with cognitive challenges. The elderly parent may feel they are not ready to move to a care facility while the adult children may be divided regarding the needs of their parent.
Intergenerational Mediation offers a place for families to have difficult conversations. IM is forward thinking and helps families navigate the coming changes. It preserves the dignity and autonomy of the elderly, promotes family involvement, and in some cases, even mends relationships. It can be a safe place for older adults to have their voice heard and to plan for the future.
With almost 1/5 of the Canadian population being over the age of 651 and with this number only rising in the coming years, questions will arise around: housing, health, surgeries, treatments, elder abuse, elder neglect, end-of-life, cognitive decline, long-term care placements, and funds for retirement living2. In addition, older adults might want to discuss estate planning and inheritance with their children or other potential heirs of their estate.
IM provides a forum for family decision-making. It is private, voluntary, and confidential. Mediators facilitate a purposeful and directed conversation in which they encourage family members to express their interests and concerns. Meetings are informal and held in locations that meet the family’s needs, including private homes, mediators’ offices, and senior living facilities. IM can involve larger numbers of participants including older people, family members, friends, and others who lend support. It is common to include paid caregivers, hospital staff, nursing home and/or community care representatives, physicians, and other professionals.
The Mediator does not decide for the family or individuals but provides a process in which they explore possibilities and find agreement. If the family wishes these can be written out and handed to the family.
The Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM) provides accreditation for IM. 120 hours of training, including but not limited to elder law, capacity, and geriatrics are required. IM mediators recognize and reduce defence responses and therefore open up space for communication and problem solving.
Research has shown that mediation has positive outcomes for individuals and family groups. IM is future focused, builds hope, ensures safety, and reduces the risks of elder abuse, isolation, and neglect. It furthers autonomy and dignity of an aging or disabled person.
If you would like to know more about Intergenerational Mediation and what it can do for you. Please contact Cathrin van Sintern-Dick at 519.359.0061
Cathrin van Sintern-Dick holds a BTh, MAPM and is an associate with OAFM, qualifying for AccFM and AccIM.
2 Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, Seniors represented in federal budget, but key investments missing, April 8, 2022 3 Kardasis & Trippe, 2010
This article was written & submitted by: Cathrin van Sintern-Dick