Elder Mediation: What's in a Name?

Published date01 July 2015
Date01 July 2015
C R Q, vol. 32, no. 4, Summer 2015 435
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the Association for Conf‌l ict Resolution
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21118
Elder Mediation: What’s in a Name?
Lise Barry
As an emerging discipline, specialist elder mediation has been char-
acterized by diversity, with developments in the f‌i eld often driven by
the needs of family members, caregivers, health professionals, and the
legal fraternity rather than the consumer demands of the elderly them-
selves. In this environment, there is a danger that the voice of elders
will be forgotten or marginalized. At its best, elder mediation can play
an important role in giving voice to older participants and ensuring
that their will and preferences take center stage. At worst, elder media-
tion could play a role in increasing the vulnerability of older people by
providing a forum that gives only lip-service to their rights.  e author
urges the elder mediation movement to ask, “What’s in a name?” and
suggests that the term elder mediation is most properly considered an
umbrella term referring to the specialist knowledge of the mediators
and the obligation to accommodate the participation of older people in
decisions that af‌f ect them.  e author argues that mediators should be
specif‌i c about the process they are providing under that banner and that
one way this can be achieved is through careful naming of the practice
and procedures.
It is not uncommon for articles on the topic of elder mediation to begin
with a comment about the diversity of the f‌i eld and the wide-ranging top-
ics that are subject to an elder mediation (McCreary 2008).  is can lead
to uncertainty about what the f‌i eld stands for. Def‌i nitions of elder media-
tion vary, and not all models focus specif‌i cally on the rights of older people
to participate in making decisions that af‌f ect them. In this article, I argue
that the “elder mediation” tag should be used largely as an umbrella term to
denote the following specif‌i c attributes: the skills, training, and ethics of the
mediator and an expectation that the mediation will accommodate the right

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