Screening for Elder Abuse

No one wants to acknowledge that some people take advantage of the elderly but mediators who meet with families in conflict need to be on the lookout for anyone who might be exerting undue influence over an elder’s decisions and not ignore a huge elephant in the room. Elder abuse can take many forms but has certain common indicators: is the elder vulnerable with a reduced ability to resist persuasion; is the perpetrator in a position of power over the elder; has the perpetrator overpowered the will of the elder; and is the outcome of this influence unfair or improper. Screening a potential mediation client for undue influence in their life needs to take place out of the presence of possible perpetrators, in an environment that the elder feels safe in. It’s not based on a professional’s intuition or any kinds of guesswork and should involve time-tested screening tools to determine if an elder is capable of acting out of their own free will.

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