The Why and How of Elder Care Mediation

Elder care mediators have a specialized process knowledge base and understanding of the life changing issues faced by elders and their families. They assist in navigating the uncertain path created by unplanned changes in the physical, emotional, and relational well being of parents.

With the deliberate implementation of conflict resolution tools and mediation methods such as evaluative, facilitative, transformative and narrative approaches there is a safe environment for all stake-holders including the elder. Elder mediator guidance facilitates families efforts in finding the best quality of life decisions for an elder and their family with the overall goal of integrating new relationship dynamics through the conflict resolution process.

Changes in Health Alter Family Dynamics

A debilitating physical change in a parent that has long been the pillar of strength in a family creates many needs and emotional dynamics among family members. The development of perceptions about the distribution of family support can create conflict within the family unit making necessary communication’s strained and possibly leading to relationship deterioration.

The cognitive changes related to age may also come to impact the daily household management. The ability to manage finances effectively and safely become of concern in concert with the vulnerability created by the loss of the physical ability. How to approach dealing with this can be source of serious conflict among family members that significantly alters relationships and hampers the ability of the family to respond to the immediate needs of the elder.

How does a family navigate these difficult places?


Elder mediation is future focused and is a mechanism for elders and families to address finances, joint responsibility and decision making, medical care, end-of-life decisions, guardianship, property maintenance, personal privileges to name a few.

Elder care mediator’s are focused on serving the elders and the families through offering a process that creates a safe space for an often difficult dialogue.

Photo: kenleyneufeld

About the Author: Kim Bunker RN BSN & Registered Mediator in Georgia is President and CNO of Southern Cross Mediation and Legal Nurse Consulting.  She is an Elder Issues Mediator and is available for consultation and questions at or on Skype with the ID Kim Bunker.

  • Kim Bunker RN BSN

    There is a great follow up comment and question to this on my blog that drills down into the separation of the roles of Elder Mediator and Geriatric Care Manager. The Ethics of practice and when each role is need.

  • George Alan Kramer

    I am a lawyer and a mediator with significant commercial mediation experience. This is an area of mediation that seems useful and timely and one I would like to learn more about. As I am getting to “elder” status myself, I suppose I carry some additional qualifications. Any help in understanding and entering this field of mediation would be appreciated. Thanks, Gak

  • Kim Bunker

    George it is a wonderful field and has many facets than are on the surface. I would look for an elder mediation training course. Conflict Resolution Academy has one and is where I received mine. Enjoyed it very much. I don’t have one to offer as of yet but hope to in early 2010. You may be aware that there is also a specialized Elder Care Lawyer classification that may be something you want to look into. Wishing you well on your endeavors.

  • Cdools

    You realize that the article is about mediation, yet you have a photo that reads meditation. Similar spellings, entirely different practices.

  • Patti Bertschler

    Kim, I just came across your relevant article. We are always happy to see the Elder Mediation field promoted by helping to educate others about this wonderful ADR option. In the last few years, The Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe and other media outlets have covered EM, and I believe that slowly the field will become mainstream. Every article like yours helps. Thank you. We are elder mediators and psychologists outside of Cleveland Ohio, and also teach an Elder Mediation course.

  • Theanna Zika

    Good article.  It answered my question as to whether elder care mediators incorporated the three fundamental types of mediation (facilatative, transformative and evaluative) into this new and growing type of mediation.
    Heavenly Helpers Senior Home Care