Dallas, Texas Professional Receives Keeping Us Safe’s National “Bill & Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award”

Brent Murray1

Brent Murray

winner of the 

 2015 Bill and Betty Fresch

Outstanding Achievement Award”

 

Keeping Us Safe is proud to announce that Brent Murray of Dallas, Texas, is the recipient of the 2015 “Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award”.

Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families throughout the United States. Its ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ program is designed to save lives while simultaneously helping to ease the burden of the family as they find themselves faced with the very challenging issue of an elderly parent’s diminishing driving skills.

A Lewisville, Texas resident, Brent Murray received certification in the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program in November, 2011. Brent holds degrees in business and logistics and has worked in the transportation industry for over 35 years.

Brent taught classes in logistics at Michigan’s Baker College for 9 years and served as a third party examiner for the State of Michigan, administering the road tests for individuals trying to qualify for their driver’s licenses. Brent is currently the DOT Safety and Compliance Manager for Commercial Metals Company in Irving, TX.

“Brent is most deserving of this award” says Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe. “Brent’s professionalism, sincerity and enthusiasm have made him very effective in helping older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.” Gurwell adds.

As a “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional, Brent serves as a facilitator for Keeping Us Safe’s self-assessment program for older drivers. This individualized program serves as a valuable tool in helping older drivers (and their concerned families) make appropriate decisions regarding the future of one’s safe driving career.

The 3-hour, one-on-one session is typically conducted in the comfort of the older driver’s home. The session includes an in-depth learning conversation, several cognitive exercises, and an actual driving exercise with the older driver that takes place in his or her own car.

The award is named after the late Bill & Betty Fresch, who died in a Pennsylvania farm field after becoming lost on what was always a routine 40 minute drive home from their daughter Jo Rinehart’s residence. The January 13, 2011, Washington Post article reporting the tragedy read Elderly couple found frozen to death after getting lost during drive.

Keeping Us Safe and the Fresch family have since partnered to help similar tragedies from happening to other families. “The Fresch family has been very gracious in sharing their very difficult story with others” says Matt Gurwell. “As difficult as it is to talk about the incident, they have risen above that and see the sharing of their story as an opportunity to help others deal with this very delicate and emotional situation, before tragedy strikes their family” concluded Gurwell.

 

Bill and Betty FreschBill & Betty Fresch

 

Jeanne Nagle, Jo Rinehart and Paul Fresch (adult children of the late Bill & Betty Fresch) explain “The Fresch family appreciates the good work done by Keeping Us Safe. We are honored that our parents’ story can be used by this program to help others. We extend our sincere thanks to Mr. Brent Murray for his unwavering enthusiasm and dedication to this cause.”

“Brent was selected as the recipient for this award because of his unwavering dedication and compassion in helping older adults. In addition to being very well respected in the community, Brent also exemplifies the standards and core values of Keeping Us Safe. His compassion and empathy when working with older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat make him an invaluable asset to the Keeping Us Safe team.” says Gurwell. 

 

2 Happiness consists in giving, and in service of others. -  Hen

Are you interested in becoming one of No. America’s Certified 

“Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals?  
 
If so, click here to learn more about this life-saving program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing to Become an “Older” Driver

Here are 3 easy steps we can take now to prepare ourselves for “older” driver status!

 

Take these 3 vitamins today to avoid pain killers later in your driving career

Did you know that on average, we outlive our safe driving career by 7-10 years? That’s a pretty amazing statistic!  Like preparing financially for the day you retire, it is never too early to start preparing for the day you finally achieve the esteemed title of “older” driver.

Experts report that many of us spend more time planning our next vacation than we do planning for our retirement.  And unfortunately, most of us will do almost no advance planning on ways we can extend our safe driving years.

apple_bite

Just as there are steps we can begin taking today to plan for retirement (the earlier the better), there are steps we can begin taking today (the earlier the better), that may someday help to extend our safe driving career.

Taking these three vitamins (the below tips) now can help avoid the necessity of taking pain killers later in life if you ever find yourself forced to give up your keys.

Remember…a pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Tip #1:  Exercise Regularly 

We all know that physical exercise is good for us, regardless of our age.  But did you know that for older adults a very strong correlation exits between physical exercise and safe driving?

For years, studies have shown that aerobic exercise can improve brain functions (particularly memory) and can even increase brain volume in older adults.  The effects of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and a host of other conditions can certainly be mitigated by regular physical activity.

Sometimes though we tend to overlook the positive role exercise plays in helping to keep us safe behind the wheel as we progress through the natural aging process. Exercise can help improve an older driver’s flexibility, coordination, strength, balance and range of motion.  Simple stretching exercises can help an older driver look left or right more easily to check their blind spots, or to help ensure a safe lane change.

Exercise can also help an older driver turn their neck and body to look behind them before backing. How many tragedies have we read about where an older driver backed over a pedestrian in a parking lot or in some cases, a family member in their own driveway?

jogging (2)

In recent years, a tremendous amount of research has been conducted highlighting the important role physical exercise plays in helping our aging population remain safe drivers.

A 2014 study by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the M.I.T. Age Lab looked at drivers who exercised for 15-20 minutes daily.  The study participants reported greater ease in turning their heads to look in blind spots when changing lanes or backing up, compared with a similar group that did not exercise.  The exercise group could also rotate their bodies easily to scan the road when making right hand turns compared with non-exercisers.

In a study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity (2011), researchers in Portugal found that significant positive effects in driving were observed in participants of an exercise program.  In this particular study, improvements were found in all driving tasks, but particularly in driver reaction time.

The Bottom Line…one of the most effective ways to extend your safe driving career is through an exercise program. Contact your community’s YMCA or senior center to see what classes and programs may be available in your area. Consider enrolling in a Tai chi class or a local wellness program. Whatever you chose to do, start today! It was General George S. Patton who said “A good plan implemented today is better than an excellent plan implemented tomorrow”.

Click here to read more about the important role exercise plays in older driver safety.

Tip #2: Keep Your Mind Sharp

In its simplest terms, driving requires the involvement of two disciplines:

  • our physical abilities (sight, flexibility, reaction time, etc.), and
  • our cognitive abilities (memory and executive functioning)

As important as it is to keep our body tuned up (see Tip #1), it is equally important that we keep our minds active and sharp.

Staying socially engaged with others; trying new activities and challenging ourselves, reading, and eating healthy are all great ways to help keep our minds active. Keeping friends and loved one’s close helps to ward off depression, which can obviously have an adverse impact on your cognitive health. These are important habits to develop now to help slow the aging process while simultaneously lengthening your safe driving career, even decades from now.

In the family setting, the issue surrounding the important role memory plays in older driver safety is often understated or even overlooked all together.  For obvious reasons, when we discuss age related diminished driving skills in older adults, we tend to focus on the physical attributes of safe driving (vision, reflexes, strength, flexibility, hearing, etc.), and may overlook the crucial role memory plays in older driver safety.

memory321

Scientists are starting to think that regular aerobic exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for the long-term health of your brain. While the heart and lungs respond loudly to a sprint on the treadmill, the brain is quietly getting fitter with each step, too.

System-wide health concerns have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and memory impairments. Keeping your circulatory system in working order today, by avoiding cigarettes and saturated fat, lessens the onslaught of age-related damage to the brain.

Click here to read more about the vital role memory plays in older driver safety.

As we prepare to enter the “older” driver era, it becomes even more important to stay up to date with vehicle safety technologies.  Purchase a new vehicle today and it will likely be equipped with such advances as intelligent brake lights (brake lights that communicate with other vehicles), smart windshields (augmented reality), night vision enhancement, automated parking systems, lane departure warning systems, crash notification and avoidance technologies, electronic blind-spot detection, back-over prevention systems, fatigue warning systems, and forward collision warning with auto brake.

However, all of this new technology is of no value to us if we have not kept our minds sharp. There is much debate among automobile design engineers, psychologists, industry safety researchers, geriatricians and neurologists, etc., on how well the processing abilities of older drivers is going to be able to keep up with the cognitive workload being required by these new technologies.

For example, most crash avoidance technologies rely on drivers to take immediate action.  The effectiveness of these systems depends on whether drivers accept the technologies, understand the information from the reporting systems, and respond appropriately.  Often times, in order to be effective and safe, the processing of these new sensory inputs will need to occur in well under a slit-second of time, and that’s quick.

For decades, the military has been conducting research on the phenomenon known as ‘fighter pilot information overload’.  This occurs when the pilot becomes so inundated with information produced by intelligence gathering technologies within the cockpit that his or her mind loses its ability to properly analyze the incoming data.  Worse still, sometimes that overload of information can become so intense and overwhelming, and in such a short period of time, that the results can almost immediately turn disastrous.

Fighter_Pilot

As drivers, are we going to find themselves overwhelmed by the bombardment of new technology commands such as audio warnings, alerts, tones, and visual cues, etc. Unless we take steps now to keep our minds sharp, we may find ourselves experiencing our own sort of ‘older driver information overload’ in the future.

Click here to read an article titled “Older Drivers and Emerging Vehicle Safety Technologies”

Tip #3:  Control (or prevent!) Diabetes 

The CDC estimates that 29 million people in the United States (9.3 percent of our population) have diabetes.  Symptoms or complications of diabetes might make it difficult to drive safely. Depending on your diagnosis, licensing might require medical evaluations from a doctor, either before receiving your license or after.  Diabetes can cause hypoglycemia, neuropathy in your hands or feet, all sorts of vision problems and in some cases, seizures or even a complete loss of consciousness.

fruit

Dr. Paul M. Rosman, DO,  Board Certified Endocrinologist and personal contributor to Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for older drivers and their families explains “Some people will continue to drive a vehicle even with recognizing that sugar levels are “a little low”.  Medical research documents decreases in reaction time, motor responsiveness, and decision-making that occurs with lowered sugar levels.

Getting your diabetes under control and keeping it under control now will serve you very well as you attempt to extend your safe driving career years from now.

And one last thing to keep in mind…

Buy Your Next Home Based (in-part) on Local Transportation Options!

We are all familiar with the natural process of downsizing.  Whether you’re staying in your home or downsizing to a smaller residence (locally or across the country), knowing your transportation options in advance is becoming more and more critical.

Leann Moore, owner of A Stress-Less Transition, LLC., serving the greater Tampa Bay area, is an expert on helping older adults downsize for their Golden Years.  She reminds us that “As we prepare to downsize and relocate, it is important to consider your transportation options.  Take the time to learn what options are available in the neighborhood you are considering.

Public transportation, door-to-door transportation services, private transportation companies (taxi, Uber and Lyft, etc.), and faith based transportation ministries may play an important role in helping you maintain your independence and quality of life. If you are considering moving into a retirement community, find out ahead of time if they offer transportation services as one of their amenities”.

Leann reminds us that “Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!”.

About the author:  Matt Gurwell is founder of Keeping Us Safe, LLC,  a national organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families.  Please visit their website at http://www.keepingussafe.org/ or 877-907-8841 for additional information on their programming. 

busride (2)

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Workbook for Older Drivers & Their Families

Do you wonder if the older driver in your family may be experiencing diminishing drivingKeeping us Safe Beyond Driving with Dignityskills 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 Matt Gurwell, founder and CEO of Keeping Us Safe.

Gurwell 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, visit the Keeping Us Safe website at www.keepingussafe.org.

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ohio State Highway Patrol partners with Keeping Us Safe to prevent older driver tragedies

osp99

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is pleased to announce a new partnership with two organizations dedicated to keeping older drivers safe on the roads of the Mahoning Valley: SCOPE of Trumbull County (Senior Citizen’s Opportunity for Personal Endeavor) and Keeping Us Safe.

In conjunction with the Warren Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, SCOPE will sponsor Keeping Us Safe’s “A Safe Drive Through the Aging Process” presentation throughout March and April.

Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that works with older drivers and their families with the issue of age-related diminishing driving skills. The one-hour long presentation, free to the public, will offer suggestions on how an older driver can extend his or her safe driving career.

The program stresses the importance of staying aware of diminishing physical and cognitive skills as we age, as well as making appropriate adjustments in driving behavior to compensate for a decline in those skills.  Read more at Media Release-OSP Warren Partnership.

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Completely Solvable Problem!

Car Accident-Keepig Us Safe

 

According to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), olderadults account for 10 percent of all people injured in traffic crashes annually and 17 percent of annual traffic fatalities.  Keeping Us Safe’s Enhanced Self-Assessment Program (ESAP) for older drivers can help drive this statistic down!  Beyond Driving with Dignity

 

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Continuing Education Programs to Help Older Drivers and Their Families Now Available to Nurses in Wyoming

 

nurses14

Keeping Us Safe is pleased to announce that their nationally-recognized presentations for nurses has been accepted for Continuing Education (CEU) credits in the state of Wyoming.   Following are brief descriptions of each presentation:

Bringing a Peaceful Resolve to Complex & Sensitive Senior Driving Issues

This 1-hour educational presentation is designed to provide Wyoming’s nurses with the skills and competencies necessary to help an individual (and their concerned family members) suffering from age-related diminished driving skills with the ability to make a smooth transition into a driving retirement, with minimal deterioration to the individual’s dignity or independence.

Driving Under the Influence of Dementia

This presentation, also 1-hour in length, is designed to provide nurses in Wyoming with the skills and competencies necessary to address the issue of dementia-related cognitive decline as it relates to older drivers.  Attendees will gain a further understanding of the role memory and executive functioning play in safe driving, and how dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease can have an adverse effect on those critical brain functions and thus on driving abilities.

The presentation includes discussion on recent research projects related to the issue of driving with dementia and will offer potential solutions for the family and for the driver with dementia in their quest to maintain their independence and a healthy lifestyle even after driving cessation.

Pursuant to the rules established by the Wyoming State Board of Nursing, nurses licensed in the state of Wyoming are now eligible to earn Continuing Education credits (CEU’s) for attending and participating in either course.

Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, explains that “A fundamental component of our mission is to provide educational support for members of the professional community that may find themselves in the difficult position of helping families deal with this very sensitive and emotional issue.  We are delighted that the State of Wyoming has recognized the need for such programs and we are honored that they have entrusted us to deliver this information to Wyoming’s nursing community.

Founded in 2008, Keeping Us Safe is an organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families. Their programs are designed to save lives while simultaneously helping to ease the burden of the family as they find themselves faced with this very challenging issue. Their services are available throughout the United States and Canada.  To learn more about their programming or to schedule a continuing education presentation please visit the Keeping Us Safe website at http://www.keepingussafe.org or call toll-free 877-907-8841.

welcome-to-wyoming

 

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Educational Programs to Help Older Drivers and Their Families Now Available to Social Workers in Colorado

colorado

(Denver, CO) – Keeping Us Safe is pleased to announce that their nationally-recognized presentations for social workers is now being offered as Professional Development Hours (PDH) in the state of Colorado.  Following are brief descriptions of each presentation:

Bringing a Peaceful Resolve to Complex & Sensitive Senior Driving Issues

This 1-hour educational presentation is designed to provide social workers with the skills and competencies necessary to help an individual (and their concerned family members) suffering from age-related diminished driving skills with the ability to make a smooth transition into a driving retirement, with minimal deterioration to the individual’s dignity or independence.

Driving Under the Influence of Dementia

This presentation, also 1-hour in length, is designed to provide social workers with the skills and competencies necessary to address the issue of dementia-related cognitive decline as it relates to older drivers.  Attendees will gain a further understanding of the role memory and executive functioning play in safe driving, and how dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease can have an adverse effect on those critical brain functions and thus on driving abilities.

The presentation includes discussion on recent research projects related to the issue of driving with dementia and will offer potential solutions for the family and for the driver with dementia in their quest to maintain their independence and a healthy lifestyle even after driving cessation.

619-00905691

Pursuant to the rules established by the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners, a component of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Licensed Social Workers (LSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) are now eligible to earn Professional Development Hours (PDH) for attending and participating in either course.

Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, explains that “A fundamental component of our mission is to provide educational support for members of the professional community that may find themselves in the difficult position of helping families deal with this very sensitive and emotional issue”.

Founded in 2008, Keeping Us Safe is an organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families. Their programs are designed to save lives while simultaneously helping to ease the burden of the family as they find themselves faced with this very challenging issue. Their services are available throughout the United States and Canada.  To learn more about their programming or to schedule a continuing education presentation please visit the Keeping Us Safe website at http://www.keepingussafe.org or call toll-free 877-907-8841.

 

Posted in Boomers, nursing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping Us Safe Presents Its Continuing Education (CEU) Program to Parish Nurses in Cincinnati, Ohio

Continuing-Ed

On January 27, 2016, Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Nancy Schuster (Cincinnati, Ohio) will be presenting Keeping Us Safe’s “Driving Under the Influence of Dementia” continuing education program to parish nurses of the Greater Cincinnati Parish Health Ministry.

Those in attendance will gain a further understanding of the role memory and executive functioning play in safe driving, and how dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease can have an adverse effect on those critical brain functions and driving abilities.

The presentation includes a discussion on recent research projects related to the issue of driving with dementia and will offer potential solutions for families and for the driver with dementia in their quest to maintain their independence and a healthy lifestyle even after driving cessation.

Keeping Us Safe - Nancy Schuster

Nancy Schuster

Nancy Schuster has been serving the greater Cincinnati area as a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional since August, 2011.  In 2013 she received Keeping Us Safe’s “Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award” for her exemplary performance in the certification program.

Click here to learn more about Keeping Us Safe’s continuing education programs.

 

 

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traffic Safety Partnership Developed Involving Local Government, a Non-Profit Organization and a Private Sector Business

Keeping Us Safe Older Driver Diversion Program

In the private sector, it is a common understanding that if your business can’t change with the times, then it’s probably not going to survive.  Any business in today’s fast-moving environment that is looking for the pace of change to slow is likely to be sorely disappointed. In fact, successful businesses actually embrace change.  Without change, businesses would likely lose their competitive edge and fail to meet the needs of what most hope to be a growing client base.

To put it mildly, change is not always quite so welcome in the world of government.  One only need look at the decades-long debacle surrounding the prioritization and processing of veterans in need of medical attention.  Or look at the declining condition of America’s infrastructure, including but certainly not limited to our antiquated power grid (our current system was developed in the late 1800’s), and how our air traffic control system is still relying on forty year old technology.  It was Ronald Reagan who said “The scariest words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

The good news is that there are many examples of local governments from across the country that are proactively serving the communities and constituents they have been elected to represent.

For just a moment, take solace in the following article.  It represents a fine example of how a local government, a non-profit organization and a national business have come together as equal partners for the common good, and are helping older drivers remain safe in the Cleveland suburb of Seven Hills, Ohio.

In this unique partnership, the Seven Hills Mayor’s Court, University Hospitals Parma Medical Center, and Keeping Us Safe, LLC., have formed an innovative alliance deigned to help older drivers who may be experiencing an age-related decline in driving skills, as demonstrated by an invitation to appear in court for a traffic violation.  Following is a very brief synopsis of the role government, a non-profit and the private sector plays in this potentially life-saving initiative:

A For-Profit Business

Founded in 2008 by a retired Ohio State Trooper, Keeping Us Safe, LLC., is a national business headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.  They have developed the “Enhanced Self-Assessment Program” for older drivers who may be experiencing a decline in their driving abilities.  This three hour in-person session typically takes place in the home of the older driver and is facilitated by any one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals.

If the individual is a safe driver, he or she is provided with strategies on how to remain a safe driver as they progress through the aging process. If a driving retirement is the appropriate decision, then Keeping Us Safe provides the individual (and their family) with acceptable alternatives, resources and a very specific plan to ensure a smooth and successful transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.

A Non-Profit Organization

In 2012, the Parma Medical Center (a non-profit medical facility) adopted the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program into the service offerings of their Center for Healthy Aging, and have enjoyed great success with the program.

Laura Matthews, BS, MS, LNHA, Manager of the Center and one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals says “We’re happy to support families with this program.  If we can be that objective person in this discussion with them, it can save lives as well as relationships in a family.”  In other words, the self-assessment program is not only designed to reduce the incidence of traffic fatalities involving older drivers, but as well, the program helps to maintain the integrity of the family unit.

A Government Entity

Older Driver Diversion program Beyond Driving with Dignity

With so many of Seven Hills’ residents over 65 (nearly twice that of the Ohio average), Mayor Richard Dell’Aquila, along with magistrate Eric Moore saw the need to explore the challenges placed on elderly drivers’ families and the community as well as protecting the drivers themselves.  They wanted to provide older drivers cited into their court with an alternative, one that would help reduce their likelihood of being cited again in the future.

Under their Older Driver Diversion Program, senior drivers who have been issued a traffic citation and wish to be considered for the Diversion Program will submit an application, pay a $50 application fee, sign a guilty plea and pay $94 court costs.  If accepted by their law department, the applicant will have 90 days to complete Keeping Us Safe’s “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program, as administered by University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.  After providing the court with proof of completion of the “Enhanced Self-Assessment program”, the applicant’s court costs will be refunded, and the traffic offense dismissed.

So What Does this Mean?

Keeping Us Safe’s self-assessment program for older drivers (a private-sector business), as administered by University Hospitals Parma Medical Center (a non-profit organization), now serves as the Senior Driver Diversion program for the Seven Hills Mayor’s Court (a government entity).

Matt Gurwell, a retired Ohio State Trooper and founder of Keeping Us Safe, says “It is extremely rewarding to be partnering with a non-profit organization and city government to bring a peaceful resolve to older drivers with diminishing cognitive and/or physical skills.  In classic fashion, Mayor Dell’Aquila and Magistrate Eric Moore have demonstrated how thinking outside-the-box and approaching an old problem from a new perspective and in doing so, they have demonstrated their sincere desire to providing a high level of service to the residents of Seven Hills.

Although the business structures, missions and methods of operation for the Seven Hills Court, the UH-Parma Medical Center and for Keeping Us Safe are all completely different from each other, we have been united by a common goal; to provide a superior level of service to those whom we serve.

In Conclusion:

Local government, a non-profit organization and a private business have formed a meaningful partnership that is designed to be of value not only to older traffic offenders, but also to their families and to the motoring public in general.  Implementation of this program is sure to make the community of Seven Hills a safer place to live, work and recreate, all at no additional expense to taxpayers.

Points of Interest:

  • Generally speaking, defendants in American courts pay for their diversion with a fee to the court, counseling, or both. It is not uncommon for the final cost to be more than the actual fine.
  • According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, over the past five years, Cuyahoga County has lead the state in older adults (65+) being killed in automobile accidents.
  • Seven Hills Court’s “Older Diver Diversion Program” is not available to individuals that were involved in an injury accident, have had a moving violation within the past twelve months, or were operating a commercial vehicle at the time of their offense. The program is completely voluntary.
  • The “Enhanced Self-Assessment Program” for older drivers is designed to help older drivers that may be experiencing a diminishment in driving skills, make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat with minimal deterioration to their dignity or independence.
  • In any well-structured court diversion program, courts may require that the defendant formally admit guilt, but suspend punishment until the defendant has had the opportunity to complete diversion, in this case, the “Enhanced Self-Assessment Program” (the plea isn’t formally entered into the court system so it can be erased upon successful completion of the program). Diversion programs such as this one emphasize counseling, treatment, and behavior modification over punitive measures.
  • Keeping Us Safe, the City of Seven Hills and University Hospitals Parma Medical Center recently held a luncheon to honor five older drivers that recently made a quiet and non-newsworthy retirement from driving. They were recognized as “the quiet heroes amongst us” for making the difficult decision to give up driving before tragedy ever had the opportunity to strike.
  • Lisa Profio, LPN, is a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional working at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center in tandem with Laura Matthews. Lisa was selected as the recipient of Keeping Us Safe’s 2014 “Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award” for recognition of her professional experience, compassion and empathy in helping older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition into a driving retirement.

For more information on Keeping Us Safe’s “Older Driver Diversion Program”, please visit their website at http://keepingussafe.org/olderdriverdiversionprogram.htm, or call toll-free 877-907-8841.

About the Author

After retiring from a very successful 24-year career with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Matt Gurwell quickly recognized that he was still filled with a desire for improving highway safety and more specifically, a passion to help keep older drivers, safe drivers.

Keeping us Safe Matt Gurwell Beyond Driving with Dignity

As a result, Matt founded Keeping Us Safe, a national organization with a mission to help keep older drivers safe. He has developed programs that provide senior drivers and their families with direction in helping to ensure one’s smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.

Since leaving the Patrol, Matt has participated in a tremendous amount of work in the area of older driver research, best practices, current vehicle safety technologies, and adaptive equipment.

After consulting with professionals from several different disciplines, Matt took this new knowledge and blended it with his years of experience investigating accidents and dealing with people (in sometimes less than comfortable settings!), and developed the “Enhanced Self-Assessment Program” for senior drivers. Matt’s creative, innovative and common sense approach, combined with his uncanny ability to bring calm and resolve to stressful situations without ever jeopardizing the dignity of others, has contributed greatly to the success of Keeping Us Safe’s programs.

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 and 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 an Ohio State Trooper is knocking on their front door”.

Matt also explains that “At Keeping Us Safe, we are not in the ‘older driver’ business. We are in the business of saving lives and helping family members maintain their relationships with an aging parent through a very difficult time of transition.”

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping Us Safe to Present “Driving Under the Influence of Dementia” at Aging Life Care Conference in Tulsa

aging life care

Keeping Us Safe has been invited to present their “Driving Under the Influence of Dementia” continuing education program at the 2015 Conference South Central Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association.

The conference is being held at the Hilton DoubleTree at Warren Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma from November 5-7, 2015, and will be attended by Aging Life Care Professionals from the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

During the presentation, conference attendees will gain a further understanding of the role memory and executive functioning play in safe driving, and how dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease can have an adverse effect on those critical brain functions and thus driving abilities.  The presentation will include a discussion of recent research projects related to the issue of driving with dementia and will offer possible solutions for helping the driver with dementia maintain their independence after a driving cessation.

The goal of the presentation is to provide Aging Life Care Professionals with additional knowledge that will allow them to provide an even higher level of service to the families they serve.  “We are very honored to have been selected by the Conference as a presenter for this prestigious event,” says Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe,  “Aging Life Care Professionals often find themselves as the first stopping point for families worried about an aging parent’s diminishing driving skills.”

Founded in 2008, Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families.  Their programs are designed to save lives while simultaneously helping to ease the burden of the family as they find themselves faced with the very challenging and emotional issue of a loved one’s age-related diminishing driving skills.

The conference is sponsored by the Quality Life Management specialists at PurviewLife. To register or to learn more about the conference contact Imane Rose at i.rose@purviewlife.com or call Purview Life at 918-935-2020.

To learn more about Keeping Us Safe please visit www.keepingussafe.org.  Media inquiries are asked to call 216-904-8841 for additional details.

Aging Life Care

Posted in Boomers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment