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May 17, 2023

Examining the Use of Eldercaring Coordination Programs

Chase Davidson

The PDF in which this article appears can be found here.

A court order restricting or removing someone’s rights should only be done as a last resort. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) estimates that there are roughly 1.3 million people and $50 billion in assets under guardianships in the United States (Senate Special Committee Report, 2018). Sadly, due to a lack of resources and education about less restrictive alternatives, guardianships are all too often relied upon, decided hastily, and left unchecked. This can create a cascade of problems, including an increase in elder abuse, more family conflict, and a decline in the mental health of the person in need of support.

A Texas survey found that 40% of the state’s guardianship cases were not in compliance with the law, which further stresses the importance of oversight (Coleman, 2022). As states’ budgetary and political constraints can hinder guardianship reform, Eldercaring Coordination (EC) may provide a possible solution. EC can be used as a pivotal resource to assist the guardianship system by increasing information, furthering inspections, reducing conflict, and lessening the cost for families and courts. 

EC is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program for older adults 60 years and older. It is a form of mediation modeled after the “Parenting Coordination Program.” EC started as a pilot program in Florida in 2016, and so far, has since been implemented in some form in California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio. In Florida, EC can be invoked by any party at any time. Judges can use EC to get more information regarding a warring family member to find the most amiable and safe solution, especially during guardianship proceedings. Families can also request EC if they are concerned about an older adult’s well-being. The use of EC does not have to be guardianship related. However, EC is often used for guardianships due to the high amount of conflict that they create for all parties involved.

The coordinators that participate in EC are impartial professionals that go through numerous training courses so that they can be a resource for families facing conflict about the care of their older adult. Like mediation, the coordinators inform the parties about their options and work to get all sides to come together and form the best plan of action. Unlike mediation, the coordinators can work with families for up to two years compared to a couple of meetings. Due to the coordinators' training and the extended time with the family, they can also detect and address any concerns involving abuse and report such concerns when appropriate. The coordinators further educate and encourage parties about less restrictive alternatives so that they can be explored when possible. Additionally, EC is cost-effective for families and the court. EC is often cheaper than lawyers because the cost is split between the parties involved and often helps cases move forward more efficiently. 

Judges, administrators, and coordinators have reported successes under EC on multiple fronts. They reported fewer motions, and the motions that took place were more legally focused. Furthermore, there were almost no emergency hearings and the hearings held were more streamlined. They also saw a reduced need for guardianship overall. Additionally, they reported less family conflict and a reduction in elder abuse and family stress for the older adult. When surveyed, 100% of judges and 81% of administrators and magistrates reported that EC was extremely effective as an intervention for high-conflict families (Eldercaring Coordination)

Despite the early success of EC, it is only taking place in a handful of states with few counties participating. Judges are also hesitant to use EC without a state statute officially recognizing it as an ADR program. So far, Florida is the only state that officially recognized the program when it passed the Elder-focused Dispute Resolution Process Bill in 2021. Furthermore, some judges are hesitant to try new approaches and embrace change. In spite of these hurdles, information about EC continues to be spread and the reach of the program continues to grow. More recently, Stark County, Ohio used a grant to aid them in establishing an EC program. EC has been a grassroots campaign pushed forth by people that want to help older adults by trying to close some of the gaps that exist within the system.

The safety of older adults is a top priority and guardianship should only be done as a last resort. With a lack of oversight in the stripping of older adults' autonomy, guardianships can be harmful without proper contemplation. EC can be a useful tool in aiding the guardianship system with further regulation and contemplation. EC can also give families relief by sorting out matters outside of the adversarial setting of the courtroom and by allowing all voices to be heard. After the implementation of EC in various parts of the United States, EC appears to be a success. Despite the resistance to change, progress is being made.

The Eldercaring Coordination website is a great resource to find more information about the program and how to support it. Here are the three main steps the website outlines to establish the program in your county: 

  1. Identify a Judge, Magistrate, or Tribunal who can initiate a Court Order of Referral to Eldercaring Coordination, or attorneys or guardians/conservators who can bring the need to their attention.
  2. Identify a liaison/Program Administrator to oversee the administrative duties of the program.
  3. Identify at least three professionals that meet the eligibility requirements for the Eldercaring Coordinator Training (meet all other qualifications to be an EC).
  4. Eldercaring Coordination is another alternative or option to protect the rights of adults and avoid guardianship.  When EC works, it protects the rights of the person, and helps the family become stronger in supporting one another.  

Works Cited

Coleman, Madia. et al. “Rethinking Guardianship to Protect Disabled People's Reproductive Rights.” Center for American Progress, 11 Aug. 2022, Retrieved 22 Feb 2023, from

Eldercaring Coordination, “Programs.” Eldercaring Coordination, Retrieved 4 Apr. 2023, from

Gross, Sarah. “Eldercaring Coordination: A Needed Dispute Resolution Option.”, American Bar Association, 2018, Retrieved 11 Apr. 2023, from

Gurnon, Emily. “Could Eldercaring Coordination Be the Answer to Guardianship Problems?” Next Avenue, 7 June 2021, Retrieved 26 Feb. 2023, from

Singleton, Amanda. “Eldercaring Coordination Helps Put an End to Caregiving Legal Battles.” AARP, 8 Nov. 2021, Retrieved 24 Mar. 2023, from,out%20the%20worst%20in%20people

Senate Special Committee Report. “Ensuring Trust: Strengthening State Efforts to Overhaul the The Guardianship Process and Protect Older Americans”, 28 Nov. 2018, Retrieved 13 Feb. 2023, from

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