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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Workbook helps families tackle difficult discussions with senior drivers

Beyond Driving With Dignity workbook cover

Do you wonder if the older driver in your family may be experiencing diminishing driving skills as a result of the natural aging process?

Has your parent become lost recently while driving on an otherwise familiar route? Have you noticed mom bumping into curbs, mailboxes, or scraping the side of the garage when she backs out? Are there unexplained scuff marks on the corners of dad’s bumpers? Has dad been involved in a minor parking lot fender-bender recently, or does he complain about being honked at all the time? Do either of them seem easily confused or more forgetful when you talk with them on the telephone?

If so, don’t panic; you are certainly not alone. The most important thing to remember is that the time to start addressing your concerns over driving is now, before “concerns” turn into “tragedies.”

Facts: According to AARP, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day for the next 18 years! Tragically, an average of 15 people ages 65+ die in car accidents every day in the United States.

The issue of taking the keys away from a parent can be extremely sensitive and emotional. Having this discussion has been likened to trying to throw a diplomatic hand grenade at your parents and the “talk” has been known to divide entire families. Adult siblings, otherwise close to each other their entire lives, can end up at war with each other (and/or with their parents) on how best to address the driving issue.

There is a solution. Keeping Us Safe has developed a workbook titled “Beyond Driving with Dignity: The workbook for older drivers and their families.”

The workbook employs a very user-friendly, uncomplicated method and is designed to be used in the comfort and confidence of the family’s home. It has been designed to remove the family’s emotion, opinion and speculation from the decision making process, and reduces everything to simple fact so that appropriate decisions can follow.

More specifically, the workbook helps the family and the older driver better recognize any deficiencies in the following dimensions:

  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Memory
  • Reflex and reaction time
  • Strength and flexibility
  • Medications, and
  • Overall health concerns

“The workbook was written to help families (or professionals working with families) by providing them with a ‘roadmap to success’ in their quest to overcome the challenges of an older driver’s safety,” explains Nancy Schuster, one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professionals and executive director of ITNGreaterCincinnati.

Schuster adds, “If driving restrictions or even a complete retirement from driving are deemed appropriate, the ‘Limit Driving, Not Living’ chapter of the workbook helps the family identify and implement alternative means of transportation for the retiring driver.”

Working through this instrument will help concerned families make appropriate driving-related decisions that are not only in the best interest of the older driver, but simultaneously find themselves in the best interest of highway safety in general. This workbook was designed to be used by the family in the confidence and comfort of their own home, most likely seated right at the family’s kitchen table.

To purchase a workbook or to learn more about how the workbook can help your family or client, contact Schuster at 513-313-7115 or by email at nschuster@keepingussafe.org, or visit the Keeping Us Safe website at www.keepingussafe.org.

More Information: National Institutes of Health Senior Health

It’s common for people to have declines in visual, thinking, or physical abilities as they get older, and this can have an impact on their driving skills. Sometimes changes in driving skills are gradual and go unnoticed by the person driving. Do you know if your driving skills are as good as they used to be?

Ask yourself these questions about your driving skills.

See ways to improve your driving.

The information on Older Drivers was developed for NIHSeniorHealth by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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