The elderly in the United States are a large demographic that becomes more socially isolated as they age, thus making them more vulnerable to predatory practices such as financial abuse and physical abuse. Recent years have seen an increase in the financial exploitation of the elderly due to the economic crisis and its financial impact on the subsequent generations. 70% of the wealth in the United States is held by those 50 years and older. The 50+ group is often the unknowing victim of family members who are in financial straits due to job loss, home foreclosure, or simply a sense of entitlement. Financial abuse of the elderly by family members has also been attributed to gambling, drug, and alcohol addiction of dependent children and grandchildren.
Mediation is a positive and proactive communication method conducted by a third party neutral between elders and their family members. Mediation is a proactive process that is transparent in addressing current and future issues, concerns, and needs of the elder and their families as the elder ages and becomes less independent, instead of relying solely on end of life documents such as wills and trusts.
Clearly defining and documenting the elderâ€™s assets, expenses, as well as their concerns can create and outline of the elderâ€™s goals and interests regarding their future. Proactive Elder Mediation can help in defining the responsibilities of family members, as well as giving family members an opportunity to share their interest and concerns in the roles in which they may be called upon to participate. Cooperative, interest-based elder mediation can set ground rules and guidelines that create systems of checks and balances. This can help in safeguarding the elderâ€™s assets as well as to inform family members of the elderâ€™s wishes and intentions.