Elder Mediation – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. Sensitivities – Part 2 of 5

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SENSITIVITIES: can shape how people view and manage conflict. Being aware and empathetic during times when people are in conflict or having difficult conversations is central to a successful outcome. 

I guess I should start by apologizing for the delay in posting Part 2. Having a busy and thriving mediation practice is amazing and I’m so appreciative that I have the opportunity to do this every day. However…sometimes I don’t get the time to write my blogs and connect with people outside of my immediate clients. I will keep trying to do my best though.

Let’s face it, families can find it challenging to communicate, especially about important things.  Elder Mediation can help families have those difficult but much needed conversations. In part 1 we looked at Families, now it’s time to address Sensitivities.

As mediators we must remain sensitive to cultural, medical, familial, financial and power imbalances in order to meet and exceed our professional responsibilities for all participants.

Some things that we need to be considerate of are:

Family history – Conflict and misunderstanding can continue throughout generations making it hard for families to initiate conversations and stay focused.

Relationships are of primary importance – Ensuring the relationships stay intact or get built up is a major consideration when managing the mediation.

Family dynamics – How families communicate, their roles, rules and how they interact will help define the flow of the mediation. Acknowledging those unique traits that make them a family is important.

Personalities – Every unique family member (and extended family) will have a different personality, communicate differently and handle conflict differently. Ensuring that all voices are heard to the extent that they can be and are comfortable with can be challenging in a big group.

Ageism – Ageism is a negative social attitude towards older adults. Ageism is based on negative beliefs about aging and assumptions that older adults are weak, frail or incapable. We need to ensure that older adults are viewed in the same way that others are viewed – equally.

Grief and loss – Change is a common theme amongst elder mediation cases. With change often comes grief and/or loss. It may be the loss of a partner, independence, health, dreams or freedom. Acknowledging the grief and loss in the room and helping the participants talk about it can lead to understanding and better support being offered.

Bill Eddy talks about paying more attention to our relationships with high conflict clients. Emphasizing E.A.R.: Empathy, Attention and Respect. I love this approach for all clients.

I think this is the basis of Elder Mediation. If we can help the family through their journey by modeling this I think that it will provide the right environment to have those difficult conversations.

As always, the talk about how to support baby boomers, the sandwich generation, aging and senior care needs to result in solutions. I believe that Elder Mediation is part of the solution.

Part 3 will explore Outcomes of Elder Mediation. I’ll reach out again soon.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Families First Mediation

Please note that I am a fully trained elder mediator working towards my certification in 2015.


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