A Unique Program Designed to Save Lives and Increase an Employee’s Well-Being

The Purpose

Keeping us Safe

The purpose of this document is to identify an issue that many of your employees are likely to experience throughout the course of their careers, and to offer employers a solution that will keep these valued employees from lapsing into a preventable state of distraction and worry in the first place.

It has been well documented that if employee problems are left un-addressed, they will ultimately have a negative impact on the organization’s bottom line.  According to a 2013 Gallop report, ‘active disengagement’ by employees costs United States employers an estimated $550 billion annually.  Combine this with the fact that an average of 15 people ages 65+ die in car accidents every day in the United States, and you now have a potential new problem in the workplace.

Earlier this year, Caring.com conducted a nationwide survey that showed a whopping 60% of family caregivers say their caregiving duties have a negative effect on their job.  In a similar study, MetLife reports that employees who are also caregivers cost employers at least 8% more in healthcare costs.  These same caregivers are often faced with the issue of worrying about mom or dad’s safety as drivers, which establishes the premise of this article.

The Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that on average, we out live our safe driving years by 7-10 years.  For those of us still in the work force, that means there may very well come a day when we become concerned about a loved one’s safe driving abilities.  In its early days, those initial concerns are very manageable and will likely require no outside assistance.  However, if left unaddressed, those initial ‘concerns’ can easily morph into a deeper rooted worry or even fear, which is sure to erode the employee’s well-being and otherwise high level of productivity.

To add to the complexity of the problem, the issue of taking the keys away from a parent 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.  Imagine the stress this is likely to cause for an otherwise very productive employee.  In some cases, if not handled properly, this family issue can even result in tragedy.

One must wonder how many employees lost work time as a result of these preventable tragedies:

  • “Elderly man runs over, drags and kills woman at Costco gas station”, KTAR News, Scottsdale, AZ
  • “Two 6-year-olds pinned against Walgreen’s wall by elderly driver”, ABC News, San Francisco, CA
  • “Man, 77, crashes car into Maryland Sam’s Club; bystander needs amputation”, The Huffington Post, New York, NY

The list of people adversely affected by any one of these completely avoidable tragedies is infinitely long.  Many lives have been affected…forever.  The short list of affected employees includes immediate family members of the older driver and the victims, extended family members, witnesses, property owners, neighbors, etc.

Imagine for a moment how heavy the hearts were of any adult children from the above tragedies when they finally returned to work.  Sadly, the employee may struggle, sometimes for the rest of their lives, with a sense of ‘I should have done more to get mom to quit driving.’

The Solution

The sole mission and purpose of Keeping Us Safe and our “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program is to work with families to help older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat before tragedy strikes.

Keeping Us Safe’s self-assessment program for older drivers is an early intervention program, designed (in part) to relieve a valued employee’s distress surrounding an elderly parent’s driving.

Having taken appropriate and effective action through timely use of the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program, employees will no longer obsessively dwell on the driving safety of mom or dad. Your valued employees will be able to focus on organizational goals and job responsibilities and will not be distracted by concerns over their loved one’s safety and the risk they might be posing to others.  Bringing a peaceful resolve to the senior’s driving issue will surely bring the worried employee’s concentration, focus and organizational skills back to the expected level of performance.

Conclusion

According to AARP, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day for the next 18 years!  Professionals, academia and the general public often refer to this trend as the Silver Tsunami.  The issue of age related diminished driving skills is not going away anytime soon.  It has been said that organizations that do not have a plan in place to address the driving issue with families, will soon be surpassed by the ones that do.

Keeping Us Safe’s “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program can help employers:

  • Decrease healthcare costs
  • Enhance employee well-being
  • Increase employee productivity
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Reduce employee absenteeism, and
  • Strengthened recruitment and employee retention

In addition to saving lives, proper utilization of this program will arm managers with yet another tool in dealing with difficult, complex and sensitive employee issues.  If you are an employer, human resource coordinator, benefits coordinator or an EAP professional, and are interested in learning more about this problem-solving program, please feel free to contact us at 877-907-8841, or visit the Keeping Us Safe website at www.keepingussafe.org.

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Falls and the Older Driver

Are you an older driver who has fallen in the past year or so?  Do you find yourself losing your balance more than you have in the past?  For adult children, have you noticed more trips or falls in your aging parent?  Has your loved one recently stumbled or tripped in their home?  Are they still driving?  If so, this article is for you!

Keeping Us Safe Fall PreventionThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that one out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) fall each year.  And the Journals of Gerontology further reports that half of those persons actually have multiple falls.

Resent research has established a definite correlation between falls and older driver crash involvement.  According to an article published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older adults that have fallen two or more times in the previous year may be at a higher risk of being involved in an at-fault car crash.

The study, conducted by Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, and the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, also reported that older drivers who fell two or more times in the prior year were 1.5 times as likely to be involved in an accident and two times as likely to be involved in an at-fault accident.

The study’s bottom line; a history of frequent falling can serve as a valid indicator in identifying older drivers that are at a higher risk for future traffic accidents.  That’s pretty significant!

Fortunately, falling is NOT an inevitable part of the aging process as falls can be prevented.  In loose translation, that could mean that by preventing falls, we could ultimately prevent automobile accidents involving older drivers.

The CDC has developed the following tips to help older adults stay independent and reduce their chances of falling:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask a doctor or pharmacist to review current medications (both prescription and over-the counter) to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have your loved-one’s eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.
  • Make the home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving lighting in the home.

Other helpful tips are available from the CDC’s website at cdc.gov.

Trauma surgeon and researcher Julius Cheng, M.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center, may have said it best when he commented “Instead of just treating falls as they happen, the focus should be on what we can do to help older people avoid them in the first place.”  I wonder if he was also thinking of preventing automobile accidents when he offered that single piece of advice.

Submitted by Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, LLC. Matt works with older drivers to help them determine whether they are still safe drivers. Visit his website at www.keepingussafe.org to learn more about their Enhanced Self-Assessment Program, designed specifically for senior drivers, or to schedule a presentation for your group, business, or organization.

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Free Informational Webinars on Becoming a Certified ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ Professional

Keeping Us Safe, a national organization headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed a program designed to prevent tragedies involving older drivers with diminished driving skills.  The program, titled “Beyond Driving with Dignity”, is a self-assessment program designed to help older drivers make appropriate decisions about their driving future in response to age-related diminishing driving skills. 

These one-on-one sessions are facilitated by any one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals and typically take place in the home of the older driver.  The three hour session includes an in-depth learning conversation with the older driver, several cognitively-based screening tools, a review of one’s medical history and an actual on-road driving exercise. 

Matt Gurwell, a retired Ohio State Trooper and founder of Keeping Us Safe, explains that “Our Certified ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ Professionals provide concerned families with the missing link between their desire to bring the driving issue to a peaceful resolution, and their ability to actually do so.”  

Gurwell adds that “The ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ Professional Certification program was developed to arm qualifying professionals with the tools necessary to help older drivers and their families work through the complicated issue of age-related diminishing driving skills.”

In a growing effort to make the “Self-Assessment Program for Older Drivers” available in every community across the country, Keeping Us Safe will be offering aKeeping us Safe "Beyond Driving with Dignity" free, 45-minute informational webinar on the benefits of becoming trained and certified in the program. 

Webinar topics include a review of how the certification can benefit individuals enrolling in the program, what the benefits are to an organization (profit or non-profit) that has a team member trained in the program, and of course, what the benefits are to the local community and to families struggling with the driving issue.  The webinar will also explain how the certification can be used as a way to supplement an individual’s (or organization’s) revenue stream. 

To register for an upcoming webinar, or to learn more about Keeping Us Safe’s “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Certification Program, please visit   http://keepingussafe.org/becomingacbddprofessional.htm or call Keeping Us Safe at 877-907-8841.    

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Keeping Us Safe to Present at the Ohio Mature Driver Conference

Keeping Us Safe Mature Driver Conference

Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, will be speaking at the Ohio Department of Transportation’s “Educating the Mature Driver” Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on July 29, 2014.

The conference was developed by ODOT for individuals certified (or interested in becoming certified) in providing Ohio’s Mature Operator Course through their driving school, and for individuals interested in learning more about mature driver needs. Gurwell will be facilitating a discussion centered on Keeping Us Safe’s “Bringing a Peaceful Resolve to Complex and Sensitive Senior Driving Issues” presentation.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides services to older drivers and their concerned families as they face the emotional and delicate issue of a loved-one’s diminished driving skills as a result of the aging process.

“Our programs provide concerned families with the missing link between their desire to bring the driving issue to a peaceful resolution, and their ability to actually do so”, explains Gurwell, who is also a retired Ohio State Trooper.

“I am very excited to be participating in this conference. My hopes are that I can provide conference attendees with valuable insight on how to address the issue of age-related diminished driving skills, so that the individual’s dignity and independence are not jeopardized.” Gurwell stated.

The one-day conference kicks off at 9AM at the ODOT complex located at 1980 West Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio. For more information on the conference contact ODOT’s Valerie Luptak at 614-466-3524.

For more information on Keeping Us Safe’s programs please visit www.keepingussafe.org. Media inquiries are asked to call 216-904-8841.

 

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Keeping Us Safe Will Present Their “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Program at the 2014 Florida Conference on Aging

Keeping Us Safe-Florida Council on AgingMatt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, has been accepted by the Florida Council on Aging Program Committee to speak at the 2014 Florida Conference on Aging in a session titled “Beyond Driving with Dignity”.

The conference, sponsored by the Florida Council on Aging, is being held at the Bonaventure Resort & Spa Hotel in Weston (Ft. Lauderdale) from August 4-6, 2014. The title of this year’s conference is Aging; Unleashed.

Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides services to older drivers and their concerned families as they face the emotional and delicate issue of a loved-one’s diminished driving skills as a result of the aging process.

“The ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ program provides concerned families with the missing link between their desire to bring the driving issue to a peaceful resolution, and their ability to actually do so”, explains Matt Gurwell, who is also a retired Ohio State Trooper.

“I am very excited to be part of this year’s conference.” Gurwell stated. “On a personal level, being among such high caliber professionals that share the desire to help older adults remain independent and to give them options to age in a dignified manner will prove very rewarding. On a professional level, my hopes are that I can provide conference attendees with valuable insight on how to address the issue of age-related diminished driving skills, so that the individual’s dignity and independence are not jeopardized.” Gurwell concluded.

The conference is being sponsored in partnership with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the Florida Association of Aging Services Providers and the National Institute of Senior Centers. For more information on the conference, visit the Florida Council on Aging at http://www.fcoa.org.

When asked what the turning point was for starting Keeping Us Safe, Matt explains “There was never one particular event. It was the result of 20-plus years of holding dying people in my arms at terrible car accidents, and delivering dozens of death notifications to families. I would much rather work with families bringing a peaceful resolve to this sensitive and uncomfortable issue now, rather than have them deal with it when a police officer is knocking on their front door”.

For more information on Keeping Us Safe’s “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program please visit www.keepingussafe.org. Media inquiries are asked to call 216-904-8841.

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A Retirement From Driving Does Not HAVE to Equal House Arrest

Keeping Us Safe-Beyond Driving with DignityIt goes without saying that for any of us, driving represents freedom, control, and of course, a degree of personal independence. But this is particularly true for the older driver. Here are five reasons a senior driver may not be willing to retire from driving, despite what may be obvious and quantifiable safety reasons:

1) For a senior driver, losing the ability to drive can be an obvious emotional set-back. In some cases, this set-back can be even more complicated when combined with recent losses such as the death of a spouse, a close friend, or a recent diagnosis of a serious health condition.

Imagine for a moment that only months ago your spouse of 50+ years died unexpectedly, and now your adult children are trying to take your car away from you. Or that just last week you were diagnosed with cancer, and today your family doctor compounded your anguish by suggesting that for safety reasons you stop driving, effective immediately. The recipient of all of this wonderful news would certainly feel like a tsunami of doom has just reached their beach.

2) A senior driver may believe that if he/she can no longer drive, they will become a burden to others. This may be the furthest thing from the truth, but it becomes very real in the eyes of the beholder. Imagine for just one minute that you can suddenly no longer drive…ever. Although completely unwarranted, it is human nature to feel at least somewhat burdensome asking others for help getting you to and from your doctor’s appointments? Taking you to get groceries? Driving you to the hairdresser or barber? Taking you to visit an old friend?

3) Many seniors see a surrender of their driver’s license as an acknowledgement that their physical wellness, agility, mental sharpness, reflexes, sight, hearing or memory are beginning to deteriorate. Or that an illness or pre-existing medical condition is “getting worse”.

4) Many older drivers believe that if they give up their driving, they will have fewer social opportunities than what they are accustomed to.

5) Despite everyone’s best efforts, driving cessation can sometimes trigger depression in elderly people which, in turn can cause a noticeable deterioration in your loved one’s physical health.

There are obviously many, many more examples of the emotional distress driving cessation can cause for an older driver. The good news is; a retirement from a long and successful driving career does not have to be all doom and gloom, and does not have to be the equal of “house arrest”.

Keeping Us Safe provides services to both older drivers and their families across the United States. You can visit them online at www.keepingussafe.org or call toll-free at (877) 907-8841 for more information.

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Extending an Older Driver’s SAFE Driving Career

Beyond Driving with DignityWith each passing year, each of us knows that the day is coming when we will lose some of our personal independence. Driving an automobile is one of the most important privileges of being an independent adult. And it is a privilege most of never want to give up.

Weighing the factors about whether it is time to retire from your driving career can be an extremely complex task. However, from the simplest of perspectives, the key to extending one’s safe driving career can be summed up in just two words; self awareness. Each of us must have the self-awareness to recognize any personal physical or mental deterioration that might affect our ability to drive safely. Although hanging up the car keys is rarely simple or easy, I believe that self-awareness is the foundation for keeping us safe drivers for as long as possible, as we progress through the aging process.

Physiological functions such as vision and hearing, reflexes, memory, agility, muscle and bone strength, are obviously very important in our ability to remain safe drivers. Many of these functions naturally diminish as we get older. Changes can also be aggravated by medications, depression, and even loneliness.

We also need to remember that accidents are more likely to cause serious or fatal injury an older person, regardless of who is at fault. In two-car fatal collisions, where one driver is 70 or older, the older driver is 3.5 times more likely to be killed. Injuries that are seen as moderate to severe for most people are often fatal to people aged 70 and older.

The key to maintaining your self-awareness is to be very cognizant and alert to what others are saying to you. Your doctor, clergy member, an occupational therapist, a driving assessor, your spouse, children and other relatives, friends or even a trusted neighbor are all great sources of information. By being receptive and listening to what these people are gently trying to tell you, you can avoid having a future discussion with the police, a tow-truck driver, your insurance agent, emergency room physicians, your attorney and the court system, the news media, or someone else’s grieving family.

Matt Gurwell is founder of Keeping Us Safe, LLC. Matt works with older drivers every day to help them determine whether they are still safe drivers. Please visit his website at www.keepingussafe.org or call him at 877-907-8841 to learn more about their Enhanced Self-Assessment Program, designed specifically for senior drivers, or to schedule a presentation for your group, business, or organization.

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Keeping Us Safe partners with All About Aging to bring life-saving program to Florida’s older drivers and the families

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Keeping Us Safe is proud to announce that All About Aging, LLC. has added yet another Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional to their staff.

Lisa Rodriguez, Certified Dementia Practitioner, has successfully completed an intensive training program and is now certified as a “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional.  She joins Geriatric Care Manager Barbara Herrington (owner of All About Aging, LLC) and Care Manager Assistant Kate Svoboda, who became certified in the program in 2013.

The “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professional certification program has been designed to arm qualifying professionals from across the United States and Canada with tools necessary to help older drivers and their families work through the complicated issue of age-related diminishing driving skills.

Having received this certification, Herrington, Svoboda and Rodriguez are now able to provide older drivers and their families with a very specific program that will help make decisions on how to keep the older driver safe.

Barbara Herrington, owner of All About Aging, LLC explains “We are pleased to offer the Beyond Driving with Dignity program to residents of Polk and Highlands counties as part of the services we provide to families. We look forward to helping families initiate conversations about safe driving while also assisting with determining solutions that satisfy everyone involved.”

Certification in the Beyond Driving with Dignity program is designed to be a common-sense approach to facilitate (and often times mediate!) rational, common-sense driving-related solutions based on tangible facts and personal observations.

To learn more about the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program, contact All About Aging, LLC., at 863-557-7604 or visit them at www.allaboutagingllc.com.

The “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professional will receive annual in-service trainings will have to meet standards of professionalism to maintain their certification.  For more information on the program please visit www.keepingussafe.org (media inquiries are asked to call 216-904-8841).

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Longtime Cincinnati Resident Receives Keeping Us Safe’s “Retired Driver Trophy”

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Nancy Schuster and Mary Ann Breeden

Longtime Cincinnati area resident, Mary Ann Breeden, was presented with Keeping Us Safe’s “Retired Driver Trophy” in a ceremony held in her home earlier this week.  The award was presented to Breeden by Nancy Schuster, one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals.

The trophy was developed by Keeping Us Safe as a way to recognize and honor older adults that have made the difficult decision to retire from driving, based on diminishing driving skills.  Ms. Breeden will also be entered into Keeping Us Safe’s national retired driver “Hall of Fame”.

Like so many older drivers, Mary Ann Breeden was a very safe and conscientious driver throughout her 65 year driving career.  However, she began to notice that her driving skills were beginning to slip as a result of the natural aging process.   Not ever wanting to ever hurt herself or someone else, Breeden made the difficult decision to give up driving.

Nancy Schuster, who also serves as the Executive Director of ITNGreaterCincinnati, has been active in the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Certification program since August, 2011.  Nancy commented that “It was an true honor to be able to present the trophy to Mary Ann.  She is such a conscientious individual.”

Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, explains that “So many times we hear and read about tragedies surrounding older drivers.  It should be noted that these tragedies are caused by a very small percentage of older drivers.  Albeit a very difficult decision, so many drivers, like Mary Ann Breeden, simply decide quietly to give up driving when they sense slipping skills.  Unfortunately, those drivers are rarely recognized for ‘doing the right thing’ and are seldom recognized for their years of commitment to driving safety.  Our Retired Driver Trophy is one way that we can give back to these conscientious and compassionate individuals.”  Gurwell adds that “Mary Ann Breeden, and so many others like her, are everyday heroes who’s commitment to safety often goes overlooked”.

To order a “Retired Driver Trophy” for the loved-one in your family, please visit Keeping Us Safe at http://keepingussafe.org/retireddrivertrophy.htm, or call us at 216-904-8841.

Trophies are personalized with your loved-one’s name and number of years of driving.  All proceeds from the trophy sales go to the charity of your choosing.

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Jo Rinehart to Serve on Keeping Us Safe’s “Executive Vision Committee”

Jo Rinehart

Jo Rinehart

On January 13, 2011, the headline of The Washington Post read “Elderly couple found frozen to death after getting lost during drive”. That couple was Mr. William Fresch (85) and his wife Betty (79).

Months in the making, and with 100% of the family’s support, I am both pleased and honored to report that later this fall, we will be formally dedicating the Keeping Us Safe website to “The Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Willam Fresch”.

In addition, we will now be recognizing (annually) one of our Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals for their outstanding achievements in the program.

That award will be aptly named “The William and Betty Fresch Award for Outstanding Achievement”, and will be presented on or about January 13th, annually.

We are also very proud and honored that Jo Rinehart of Fairfileld, PA (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fresch) has graciously accepted a positioin on Keeping Us Safe’s ‘Executive Vision Committee’. Who better to serve as a representative of the famiies that we so humbly serve. Thank you Jo, Jeanne and Paul for all of the help, support and insight you bring to Keeping Us Safe!

Please consider taking a moment to read the article from The Washington Post, it is a very touching (and tragic) story.

http://wapo.st/hXdg0K

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