Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mediation for Elderly

Today I enjoyed participating in a seminar presented in Pittsburgh by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute entitled "Using Mediation to Resolve Disputes Involving the Elderly".

This is the description of the course:
A variety of conflicts involving elderly persons call for effective resolutions that take into consideration a multitude of varying interests and often delicate relationships. ADR, and particularly, mediation often provides the structure and process for that to occur.
This course will provide anyone -- lawyers (general practitioners, as well as elder, healthcare, estates, trusts & probate and business law specialists) and members of the other helping professions -- with the tools they need:
  • to decide whether and when it is likely to be appropriate and helpful to use mediation or another type of ADR to resolve disputes in which that elderly person is involved,
  • to represent a client effectively in preparation for and during an ADR process to resolve such a dispute, and
  • to educate the family members of an elderly person about the conflict resolution options available to support them in maintaining positive relationships with their elderly relative.
Disputes involving the elderly arise in a variety of situations: estate planning and administration; addressing an elderly person`s changing needs or the care they are receiving (whether in a private or institutional setting); deciding on the appointment of a guardian; managing conflicts between elderly people and (of course) resolving intra-family conflicts; and conflicts within institutional settings which, if not resolved, can affect and elder's care and the liability that can accompany errors that arise when conflict is protracted.
In any of these situations, questions may arise about the ability of the elderly person to participate meaningfully in the ADR process due to his or her diminished mental capacity, and how to compensate for this condition. Sometimes, abuse of the elderly person is a factor, and almost always there are multiple parties to the conflict.
Addressing these challenges, in addition to those that typically arise in any mediation, calls for experienced and specially trained ADR practitioners. 
The course was presented previously, on October 13, 2010, in Philadelphia, where it was videotaped.

The interaction among the panel members and those in the audience today -- many with extensive mediation experiences -- set this four-hour session apart from other "lectures" I have heard (or delivered!). 

As a co-planner of the course from its inception, my contribution to written materials involved a new website hosted on Google Sites, which I entitled "Mediation for Elderly."  It remains available as a teaching tool supplementing the printed book.

On its web page entitled Article & Reports, I listed good resources to learn about mediation involving an elderly person.  One of those references is a recent article posted by the AARP Bulletin entitled "Oh, Brother! With Parents Aging, Squabbling Siblings Turn to Elder Mediation" (09/20/10), by Sally Abrahms.

Also on that web page, I referenced previous PA EE&F Law Blog postings regarding alternative dispute resolution, including mediation:
Key course planners Jim Rosenstein and Ann Begler, with the other Philadephia and Pittsburgh panelists, compiled a useful printed resource regarding mediation as one form of alternative dispute resolution well-suited to many seniors encountering problem settings.