2010 World Summit and Symposium on Elder Mediation

I am currently attending the 2010 World Summit & Symposium on Elder Mediation and am presenting on ethics on May 11th and advance directives on May 12th. I enclose my presentation slides as follows:

It is estimated that there are currently 3.7 million Canadians over the age of 65. With the leading edge of the “baby boomers” poised to hit retirement in 2011, seniors will soon make up close to a quarter of the population. This demographic shift will have a profound effect on our society socially and economically.

The potential for issues and disputes will increase as larger numbers of older adults face life transitions and issues of incapacity, health care, housing, finances, family and relationship concerns, possible abuse and neglect, estate planning, end of life decisions and other significant concerns. Elder mediation is a potential solution to assist seniors, their families and other stakeholders facing a maze of options and tough decisions.

What is Elder Mediation?

The Elder Mediation Canada web site defines elder mediation as follows:

Elder Mediation is a cooperative process in which a professionally trained elder mediator helps facilitate discussions that assist people in addressing the myriad of changes and stresses that often occurs throughout the family life cycle. Elder mediation typically involves larger numbers of participants including older people, family members, friends and others who are willing to give support. Depending on the situation it is not uncommon to include paid caregivers, hospital staff, nursing home and or community care representatives, physicians and other professionals.

Over the past 20 years mediation with age-related issues has been emerging as a distinct specialty in the field. Elder Mediation is now being recognized internationally as an important step in the continuum of care – promoting wellness, developing prevention strategies and enhancing quality of life. The focus is on addressing concerns and issues while maintaining and strengthening the myriad of relationships critical to the well-being of the older person.


  1. The activity sounds extremely valuable, and as a prospective user, I am pleased to hear that people are being properly trained in the appropriate techniques and knowledge.

    It is however too bad that this activity is called “mediation”, since that term generally refers to the resolution of disputes, and in the ‘elder’ context, we are not necessarily talking about disputes.

    So elder mediation is not like family mediation, or mandatory mediation, or commercial mediation, or [insert many other known formulas].

    I suppose it’s too late to invent a term like ‘elder integration’ or ‘elder facilitation’ or even ‘elder intermediation’… or to return to the Anglo-Saxon, ‘elder help’.

  2. I hope your May 12th Advance Directives presentation will include a discussion of non-statutory (i.e., non-state-standard) advance directives, as well. Considerable research has documented the short-falls of typical or “standard” advance directive documents in meaningfully capturing individual wishes. Fully legal and valid alternative documents such as the Lifecare Advance Directive (see http://www.LifecareDirectives.com) and the Five Wishes living will see http://www.agingwithdignity.org/five-wishes.php) are invariably much more comprehensive, and thus often more useful to those who want to fully explore and record their personal wishes. Studies demonstrate that the more complete your advance directive the more likely your wishes will be known and honored. Hopefully these important benefits can be discussed, especially in light of the Elder Mediation process.