ITNGC Takes Emotion Out of Senior Driving Skills Assessment
Should Dad hang up the car keys? “Beyond Driving with Dignity” can help
Driving is a last bastion of independence for many senior citizens. Deciding when to hang up the car keys can be an emotional decision— but it’s one that the Independent
Transportation Network of Greater Cincinnati (ITNGC) can help older adults address in a non-confrontational way.
Nancy Schuster, executive director of ITNGC, the transportation network for seniors and the visually-impaired, is now certified as a “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professional.
“This program is a natural fit and great complement to the services we provide in Deaconess Foundation’s senior-centric model,” said Schuster. “We feel that ITNGC services are a great resource to help seniors and their families as they approach this difficult decision.”
The Beyond Driving with Dignity program is designed to arm professionals with tools necessary to help older drivers and their families stay safe and work through the complicated issue of assessing age-related, diminishing driving skills.
Research on age-related driving concerns shows that at around the age of 65, drivers
face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash, according to the www.keepingussafe.org website. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply, perhaps because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash-related injury and death.
“After 20-plus years of holding dying people in my arms at terrible car accidents, and
delivering dozens and dozens of death notifications to families, I decided I would much rather work with families to bring a peaceful resolution to this sensitive and uncomfortable issue than have them deal with it when an Ohio State Trooper is knocking on their front door,” said Matt Gurwell, retired Ohio State Highway patrolman and founder and CEO of Keeping Us Safe, parent company for the Beyond Driving with Dignity program.
The Beyond Driving with Dignity program applies a common-sense approach to facilitate (and sometimes mediate) rational, common-sense driving-related solutions based on tangible facts and personal observations. The driving program, along with ITNGC, is Deaconess Assns. Foundation (DAF) initiatives.
“Deaconess sees this certification as a natural extension of its FullLife senior initiative aimed towards helping seniors age with dignity,” said Patrick Ward, DAF executive director. “Nancy can now help seniors and their families with the difficult decisions relating to driving cessation.”
Gurwell founded the Cleveland-based Beyond Driving with Dignity program in 2008. He developed a curriculum, work book, cognition and driving exercise to help senior citizens
self-assess whether they can safely keep driving or should retire their driving licenses. He has conducted 75 self-assessments so far, and is training social services professionals to offer his program nationwide.
“Sometimes a senior just needs an adaptive device and can continue to drive safely,” said
Schuster. “The program helps seniors do a sensitive, non-emotional self-assessment
without family members nearby, and reports back to loved ones based on the facts of today.”
For more information about the Beyond Driving with Dignity program or to schedule an
appointment, contact Schuster at the ITNGC office at (513) 559-2856. Cost is $350 for the 3 hour session. The program is conducted in the senior citizen’s home or where he or she feels most comfortable, and includes a driving exercise.
The Beyond Driving with Dignity professional receives annual, in-service
educational training and meets standards of professionalism to maintain
certification. For more information on the program, visit www.beyonddrivingwithdignity.com.
ITNGC is a 24-hour per day, seven days per week transportation service for senior
citizens (age 60+) and visually-impaired adults. Volunteer drivers provide
transportation anywhere within the I-275 highway loop.
ITNGC helps older adults experience more vibrant, active and fulfilling lives by
providing and supporting programs and resources for senior citizens aging in
place. It is an affiliate of Deaconess Associations, Inc. which owns and operates Deaconess Long Term Care facilities in Ohio, Kansas and Missouri, and the Heimlich Institute, dedicated to using the creative portion of our minds in medicine and in life