Have You Heard of the Elder Mediation Service in Knoxville?

Have You Heard of the Elder Mediation Service in Knoxville?

Most of us are living longer. Some of us may live to 100 or beyond.

Making Decisions We Never Imagined

At some point during our lifetimes, we will probably find we have to make decisions we never imagined we would. Here are some of those:

  • Is it still safe for us to drive or is it time for us to rely on others to take us where we need to go?
  • Have we reached a point where our home is too much to handle and do we need to look at other options?
  • Are we starting to have physical problems and do we need others to help us?
  • Are we having problems getting around our home or getting in and out of the shower or bath and do modifications have to be made for our safety?
  • Does anyone in our family know if we have a will, where it is, or what our wishes are when we die?

We Don’t Like to Think About Things Like This and We Don’t Like to Discuss Them with Loved Ones

We want to bring them up, but we worry feelings may be hurt. Arguments may start. Our relationships can be damaged. That damage may never be repaired.

Wherever possible, steps should be taken to avoid damaging a relationship, especially between an older person and their loved ones.

One Step – Elder Mediation Services

They provide help to family members in resolving these kinds of issues.

Families with a troublesome issue bring it to an Elder Mediator. That mediator listens to all the parties and helps them formulate a way to resolve it that is acceptable to each of them.

Here is an example.

It has come to Brian’s attention that Mary, his 85 year old mother, ran a stop sign last week. She sideswiped a car just past the stop sign. There was $1,000 in damage to the car.

When Brian learned of this, he thought about the last few months. His mother did not seem to be as sharp as she had been before. She had forgotten things she never would have in the past. He wondered what triggered the accident. Did his mother forget she was supposed to stop for the stop sign? Did she even realize she hit that car?

Brian wondered if it’s time for Mary to stop driving. He was not only concerned about the safety of others but also Mary’s safety.

Mary feels There is Nothing Wrong With Her or Her Driving

It wasn’t a lapse of memory that caused her to go through the stop sign. She dropped her purse on the floor. When she reached over to pick it up, she took her eyes off the road. When she looked up, she saw she was going through the stop sign. She was so frustrated with herself, she hit the gas and sideswiped a car.

Brian lives about 10 miles from Mary. If she has to stop driving, she won’t be able to get out to shop or visit her friends. She’ll be housebound all of the time. She doesn’t want that.

Mary and Brian have always had a good relationship. However, Mary’s accident and the steps Brian feels are necessary may damage it.

Brian heard about a new mediation service in the area. This service works with older people and their family members who have problems. They help them reach solutions which are acceptable to all. Brian and Mary talked about it and agreed to check it out.

When Brian called to schedule an appointment, he explained the problems he and Mary had.

When they arrived for the appointment, a mediator met with Mary first. Mary told the mediator everything that happened on the day of the accident. She also expressed how losing her ability to drive would cost her her freedom and restrict her to her home.

Next, the mediator met with Brian. Brian told the mediator about the lapses in Mary’s memory that he noticed over the last 6 months. He also relayed everything he knew about the accident.

The Mediator Then Brought Mary and Brian Together

He let each know the other’s concerns.

Mary agreed she has had some minor memory lapses. In the last 6 months, she has had 3 close friends die. She had been thinking about them and grieving their loss. That may have been the reason for the memory lapses.  She doesn’t feel she’s at the point where she cannot drive.

Brian is concerned about Mary’s safety.  He also agreed if Mary stops driving, they will have to come up with a way she won’t be restricted to her home.

With suggestions and input from the mediator,

Here is the Agreement They Reached

Any time Mary wants to go anywhere during the next month, Brian will ride along with her. If he sees no lapses in her memory, Mary can resume driving on her own.

If Mary does have problems, she will give her car keys to Brian. Brian will arrange to drive Mary wherever she wants to go when she wants to. If he is not available, Brian will find someone else to drive her.

The mediator had the agreement typed up and both Brian and Mary signed it.

Until now, you may not have been aware a mediation service like this exists.

There is One Right Here in Knoxville

It is part of the Community Mediation Center.  The address and contact information are

Elder Mediation Service

Community Mediation Task Force

912 S. Gay St., Ste L-300

Knoxville, TN 37902 

Phone – 865-594-1879

Email – ElderMediation@2mediate.org

The example above is just one of the issues they deal with in mediation sessions.  Here are some of the others they can help with:

  • Caregiving and living arrangements for aging parents if they remain in their home
  • Payment of bills and the handling of finances
  • Enhancement of relationships among parents, siblings, grandchildren, and other family members, including settling family disputes
  • Family business concerns
  • Powers of attorney and guardianship decisions
  • Inheritance and asset/property distribution decisions including issues on wills, trusts and estates
  • Preparations for end-of-life arrangements and advanced dispositions

A typical mediation session can last up to 3 hours. On some occasions, more than one session may be necessary.

Mediation Sessions Are Held in Locations Comfortable to the Parties

They can take place at home, in conference rooms at the Juvenile Court where the Community Mediation Service has an office, or at another location. At times, some parties may be out of the area and the session will be handled over Skype or Zoom.

Sessions are normally held during a week day or night. If these times are not good for the parties, they can be held on weekends.

The mediators are extensively trained volunteers. There is no cost for their services. If a session is cancelled, there may be a cancellation fee.

The mediators work to protect everyone and to help the parties reach an agreement acceptable to all. They don’t take one party’s side and try to sway the other party to it.

Some people find this hard to believe and are reluctant to meet with a mediator.

If You Are Skeptical, Talk to One of the Elder Mediators.

Tell them of the issue bothering you. Find out how they would help you resolve it. Once you are satisfied that they are fair, independent, and will work with you and your loved ones to reach an agreement acceptable to everyone, schedule a mediation session with them.

If you and your family members have a problem, reach out to the Elder Mediation Service. Let them help you with it.

The phone number again is 865-594-1879. They are waiting for your call.


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is bob.ooablog@gmail.com