An elderly woman loses $50,000 after receiving a fraudulent mailing.
A senior motorist is pulled over by police, prompting questions about his driving ability. Adult children pressure their parents to sign over deeds.
Such scenarios were among tales shared during a conference in Oneonta presented by the Dispute Resolution Center of Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Counties on Tuesday. Plans are developing to implement an ``Elder Mediation and Dialogue Program,'' said Donna Kankiewicz, volunteer coordinator at the center.
The Dispute Resolution Center is a program of Catholic Charities of Delaware and Otsego Counties and contracts with the state Unified Court System to provide services in the area.
In fiscal 2006-07, the Community Dispute Resolution Centers statewide served more than 2,000 adults older than 60. The cases included small claims (56 percent), misdemeanors and violations (11 percent), housing (11 percent) and family issues (10 percent), according to the Unified Court System.
During the luncheon focus group at the FoxCare Center, about 25 mediators and human-services providers summarized their programs. They also shared instances when elderly residents needed assistance but help wasn't possible or was hindered because of family disputes, a lack of information about available services or legal restrictions.
``I'm very glad we're focusing a lens on this area of the population,'' said Kathie Greenblatt, executive director of Catholic Charities.
The Dispute Resolution Center helps with disputes between landlords and tenants, consumers and businesses and in divorce cases, among other areas. As the baby boomers become the ``elder boom'' population, issues of aging are gaining attention, said organizers, who also emphasized a goal of helping older people continue to make decisions about their lives.
Kankiewicz said participants were asked if they wanted to speak at the training of mediators in June. The center already has trained mediators and accepts cases involving elder issues, she said, and the next step is more mediators . The center has reached more than 100 people through recent focus groups in the three counties, she said.
On Tuesday, participants included representatives from Otsego Manor, the Office for the Aging, Main Street Baptist Church in Oneonta, the Alzheimer's Association and independent trained mediators.
Several participants said mediation specific to the elderly population would be helpful in situations when a senior citizen is in failing health, facing moving into a nursing home and making end-of-life decisions.
Ann Thayer, program manager for the Alzheimer's Association Leatherstocking Region, said unaired family disputes can arise when children face decisions about health care for a parent. She said Tuesday's meeting enhanced her understanding of locally available services.
``It was extremely helpful,'' Thayer said.
Otsego County Rep. Kathleen Clark, R-Otego, said some senior citizens don't receive services they need because of transportation problems and the nature of isolation in a rural area.
``A lot of people fall through the cracks because their problems aren't visible to the movers and shakers,'' said Clark, chairwoman of the county's Human Services Committee.
The more accessible services are in communities outside Oneonta, the better, she said.
Jennifer Evans, a mediator and lawyer, moved to Cooperstown from the state of Maryland to help her mother, who eventually needed care 24 hours a day. Arranging care prompted differences within the family, she said.
``I look forward to learning more about elder mediation,'' Evans said. ``I'm 62, so I'm going to be a consumer on the other end.''