State grant-in-aid supports mediations, family meetings for seniors

The Kuʻikahi and West Hawaii mediation centers are receiving state grant-in-aid funds to support mediations and facilitated family meetings for seniors ages 60 and older.

“Hawaii Island’s two nonprofit mediation centers have teamed up to provide mediation services on critical issues affecting our kupuna, including disputes among tenants and landlords, neighbors, debt collection agencies and consumers, buyers and sellers of goods and services, and many others,” said Ku‘ikahi Executive Director Julie Mitchell.

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In mediation, an impartial person (the mediator) assists seniors to resolve their disputes. The mediator helps the involved parties systematically work through the issues, identify alternatives and reach final agreement. Mediation focuses on the participants and their needs. A key element of mediation is that the mediator does not impose a decision on them. Instead, the parties work together toward a mutually satisfying solution.

“We also offer facilitated family meetings, in which seniors, spouses, adult children, siblings and other relatives can have structured conversations and create agreements to support their kupuna,” said Amanda Blount, interim executive director at WHMC. “Most older adults require some form of family care planning and coordination, especially when facing challenges like reduced mobility or dementia. How can families juggle changing needs regarding physical care along with financial and legal issues? Family meetings can help.”

The two mediation centers offer a safe space for having difficult conversations, making tough decisions and resolving disputes that can often arise as a result of aging or illness and shifting responsibilities or caregiving. The process of mediation and facilitated family meetings assists seniors to make important choices.

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In East Hawaii, contact Kuʻikahi Mediation Center at 935-7844 or info@hawaiimediation.org. In West Hawaii, contact West Hawaii Mediation Center at 885-5525 or info@whmediation.org.

The program is made possible in part through Federal Older Americans Act Title III and funding from the Hawaii County Office of Aging and the state Executive Office on Aging.