Friday, May 8, 2009

Effective Collaboration and Elder / Adult Care Mediation

What kind of message is sent when we are reluctant to use the terms "elder", "senior" or "older adult" for fear of offending those of us who have been blessed to age. As we all age, we understand that there are unique issues for which important decisions must be made to avoid default and crisis outcomes.

Instead of avoiding the use of terms such as "elder," we should embraced it. After all, the term "elder" creates perceptions of great respect, wisdom, and status in our society. Consumer education and outreach will then be focused on the natural aspects and issues of aging and the variety of approaches to support older adults, their families, and caregivers in making informed decisions addressing their respective life transitions.

It is key that older adults be given opportunities to have their voices heard to the fullest extent possible, regardless of age and/or their disability. It is the attitudes and mind sets going along with language about aging and older adults that will impact ageism over time.

With a focus on neutralizing the long-held negative perceptions of "being old" or "getting old" by highlighting aging issues and quality of life and care decisions as a natural part of living, there is tremendous creativity as we communicate to the older generation and their families. Facing the tiger with the use of respectful and honest terms can be powerful in the long run.

Elder/Adult Care Mediation typically works by involving a senior family member. Adult family communication and conflict resolution not only may involve family members, but may also include the "family" of a church or other religious organization, relatives in some combination, or other disputes that are relational and pertinent to aging issues.

Often, Adult children of elderly parents are not trying to make a specific decision but rather are interested in crafting an effective way to communicate with one another or to develop a decision making process for the future.

If you or someone you know would like to know more about the mediation process, contact Attorney Patricia Bloom-McDonald is a trained Collaborative Law and Mediation facilitator and consultant.