Guest Blog: Financial Frauds and Abuse of the Elderly

Submitted by guest blogger Carol Marak, senior advocate and editor of  SeniorCareQuest.com in Austin, Texas.


It’s hard to believe how much the elderly suffer at the hand of shysters. Back in 2009, MetLife made an educated assessment saying the estimated financial loss due to scams neared $2.9 billion.

But recently in a Truelink study, they discovered the financial loss to be twelve times higher. Financial abuse agitates close to 36.9% of seniors in any five-year period.

Its tragic. And it’s rampant.

Just recently in the Chicago Tribune, I read an article about Ernie Banks and his caregiver. For over ten years, the caregiver helped Mr. Banks and over time became his confidant and took over his business affairs. The Banks family had no knowledge of the new Will. Needless to say, Banks’ estate favored the caregiver after his death.

These stories are the ones that hit us the hardest. Even someone in my family was a target to financial abuse. Foretunately my sister has a lot of savvy and engaged the scammer on the phone. He bought into the conversation for awhile and then quickly ended the conversation. If you should come across a telemarketer whose sales techniques feel a bit slimy, more than likely, it’s a shyster!

Here are a few questions to ask. These surprise a scammer and give them a loud and clear message that you’re a lot smarter than he thinks!

  1. “Is this a telemarketing call?”
  2. “What’s your name?”
  3. “Who do you work for?”
  4. “What’s the name of the company?”
  5. “Does your business have a ‘do not call list’ and if you do, add my name and number?”
  6. “What are your written policies of the do not call list?”
  7. “Send me a copy.”

How Financial Abuse Plays Out

According to TrueLink, a California-based financial services firm that helps seniors protect themselves from fraud, exploitation, and financial abuse; give the rundown of the top three problems:

Financial Exploitation – $16.99 billion is lost to this type of manipulation. Scammers mislead seniors by using confusing language. They also apply pressure and manipulation to get to a senior’s assets.

Criminal activity and fraud take $12.76 billion from seniors Some are call the grandparent scam and identity theft.

Home helpers swindle close to $6.67 billion by creating close relationships. Culprits include friends, family members, even lawyers, and accountants. Before hiring an in-home caregiver, always check credentials, run a background check and remain vigilant.

Follow these National Center on Abuse tips and be on the lookout for:

  • Removal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder
  • Abrupt changes in bank account
  • Additional name on the elder’s bank signature card
  • Unauthorized withdrawal of funds
  • Unexpected changes in a will
  • Sudden changes in financial documents
  • Mysterious disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • Substandard care
  • Elder’s signature forged for financial transactions
  • Hasty transfer of assets

The National Council on Aging estimates over 5 million elder abuse victims in America – and some of them reside in nursing homes. NCOA calls it a silent crisis.

Look for other Forms of Abuse Concerns

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Nonverbal abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect by caregivers

If you encounter abuse, report it to the Adult Protective Services or call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.


Carol Marak is a writer, content broadcaster, entrepreneur, resourceful thinker and animal lover. As a dedicated senior care writer with an intimate curiosity of what matters beyond adulthood, she does research to find answers to tough concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, planning long-term, paying for care, connecting socially, and balancing worry and love for family. 

Carol is a longtime friend of Keeping Us Safe.  She can be reached at 512-423-4098 or by email at carol@carebuzz.com

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Preventing Parking Lot Tragedies Involving Older Drivers

On the day before Thanksgiving, the story headlining Pittsburgh media outlets read “Pittsburgh woman who had been due to give birth was fatally struck by an elderly driver in a Rite-Aid Pharmacy parking lot”.

The New York Daily News further reported that Jodie Guthrie, 30, was outside the pharmacy when an 88-year-old driver pushed the gas instead of the brake and struck and killed the expectant mother, leaving the newborn child in critical but stable condition.

In January of this year, Margaret Tilly, 74, was “crushed and killed” after her 81-year-old husband backed into her after she got out of their car in a fruit market parking lot in suburban Cleveland, Ohio.

As reported by the News-Herald, “Mrs. Tilly, was standing next to the vehicle to help guide her 80-year-old husband into a parking spot. The passenger door of the vehicle was open, when her husband accidentally hit the gas pedal, sending the car in reverse. The passenger door knocked Mrs. Tilly down and she was run over.  She later died at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.”

Introduction

According to a report by the Erie Insurance Company, twenty percent of all accidents happen in parking lots. What’s more, 52 percent of injuries resulting from back-over accidents occur in parking lots.

Parking lots are home to a flurry of activity in a relatively small amount of space. Add unique layouts, traffic patterns that vary by parking lot, bicyclist and pedestrian traffic, and it’s easy to see why so many accidents happen in parking lots.  Personal injury attorneys often refer to parking lots as “accident magnets”.

Why do these types of tragedies happen and is there anything we can do to prevent them?  Why do so many of them involve older drivers?  Those are questions that come with no easy answers, but opening a dialog on the subject is certainly a good starting point.  The purpose of this article is to initiate thought and conversation on the issue in hopes of generating new ideas and bringing additional awareness to a safety concern that affects all of us.

This article is not meant to address the issue of older drivers and storefront crashes, nor is it meant to address the science of parking lot design.  Our aim here is to simply create a discussion on the issue of older driver safety in parking lots.

As such, this article could best be outlined as follows:

  • Four causes of parking lot tragedies involving older drivers
    • pedal misapplication
    • driver inattention or distractions
    • backing errors caused by strength and flexibility declines
    • declines in vision
  • Tips for older drivers in preventing parking lot crashes
  • Summary
  • Additional resources

In no way is this article meant to be an assault against older drivers.  Make no mistake about it; the phenomenon of parking lot crashes is not unique to older drivers.  The problem is that older drivers are grossly over-represented in parking lot tragedies.

Four Causes of Parking Lot Tragedies Involving Older Drivers

Parking lots can often be places of chaos, confusion and, occasionally, tragedy.  Although complex in nature, there are some common factors that consistently show themselves in these types of crashes.  Let’s take a quick look at four reasons these tragedies occur and why older drivers are involved in so many parking lot crashes.

1)  Pedal misapplication

In its simplest terms, pedal misapplication is nothing more than “confusing the gas pedal for the brake pedal”.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in crashes involving pedal application errors, there is significant over-involvement by the youngest (age 16 to 20) and oldest (76 years of age and older) drivers.  Both of the tragic stories mentioned above involved pedal application errors.

Keeping Us Safe Pedal Misapplication

The term “pedal application error” gained popularity after the 2003 crash in Santa Monica, California, when an 86-year-old George Weller pressed the accelerator instead of the brake, launching his Buick into a crowd of shoppers at an outdoor market, and killed 10 pedestrians and injured 63 others.  “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; he was hitting people and they were just flying,” said one witness.  “You would think it would have slowed him down, but it didn’t.”  A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that the Farmer’s Market crash was caused by the driver’s “inadvertent acceleration when he intended to brake”.

Although many possible explanations exist for every incident of pedal misapplication, declines in an older driver’s physical abilities (neuropathy, etc.) as well as declines in cognitive functioning (dementias, etc.) are prominent contributing factors.

2)  Driver inattention or distractions

In Oklahoma City last July, a 3-year-old child was struck and killed in a McDonald’s parking lot by a driver that was reportedly “distracted” by another vehicle.

As we age, we can experience more difficulty in dividing our attention among multiple tasks and in switching rapidly from one task to another. Difficulty in task management (declines in executive functioning) can be especially dangerous when maneuvering a vehicle through a busy or poorly designed parking lot.  Monitoring a GPS or vehicle navigation system, tuning the radio or even listening to conversations among passengers can prove most disruptive.

Parking lots are very busy places and they can be rather stressful.  Dodging near misses, getting cut off, searching for that perfect parking spot, avoiding run-away shopping carts (and children!) and the like can quickly task even the sharpest drivers.  An older driver’s ability to keep distractions to a minimum is paramount to his or her safety, as well as to the safety of other parking lot users.

By their very nature, parking lots are a haven of outside distractions.  In addition to those “naturally occurring” distractions, NHTSA confirms what we already know; driver distraction from secondary (in-vehicle) sources is increasingly recognized as a significant cause of injuries and fatalities.  Listening to the radio or carrying on an in-depth conversation with your passenger only serve to erode your ability to focus on the naturally-occurring distractions that a parking lot presents.

3)  Backing errors caused by strength and flexibility declines

As we age, it is not uncommon to lose certain physical attributes that are important for safe driving, particularly in our strength, coordination, range of motion, flexibility and reaction time.  All of these attributes contribute to the ability of an older driver to remain a safe driver.

WebMD reports that from the time you are born until around the time you turn thirty, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your thirties, you begin to lose muscle mass and function.  People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age thirty.

Keeping Us Safe-Older Drivers Exercising

Studies consistently show a positive link between an older driver’s flexibility and their driving performance.  As part of a September, 2014, story in the Hartford-Courant newspaper (Hartford, CT) titled “Older Drivers Benefit from Exercise”, a 74-year-old retiree explained “It’s harder to turn around now to look for blind spots,” he said. “Backing up is a real issue too.”

The article was based on a study conducted by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the M.I.T. Age Lab, and looked at the effects of exercise on older drivers’ strength, flexibility, coordination and range of motion.  The study found that drivers who exercised for 15-20 minutes daily reported greater ease in turning their heads to look in blind spots when changing lanes or backing up, compared to a group that did not exercise.  The exercise group could also rotate their bodies further and were able to get in and out of their cars with greater ease, which translates to improved flexibility.

For all of us, regardless of age, it is a good practice to eliminate or at least minimize backing wherever possible.  Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, reminds us to “Avoid backing maneuvers whenever possible.  If we were meant to be good backer-uppers, our driver’s seat would be facing out the back window”.

4)  Declines in vision

The natural aging process is not always kind.  In addition to a propensity to lose some of our strength and flexibility, our vision begins to change as well.  Eventually we may lose our ability to distinguish details and our field of vision can begin to narrow. Obviously, declining eyesight is likely to have an adverse effect on critical driving functions.

A narrowing of our visual field makes it harder to see objects on the edge of our visual field such as signs, signals, vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.  The density of our eye’s lenses increases, making it hard to see in low light conditions.  We may have increased sensitivity to glare, making it hard to see in the presence of oncoming headlights at night or in the presence of sun glare in the daytime.

Keeping Us Safe-Vision and Driving

On December 15, 2015, KTLA-5 in Los Angeles led their newscast with “Woman Fatally Struck by 91-Year-Old Driver in Post Office Parking Lot”.  A Los Angeles police detective reported “The driver did not see the woman”.

The root cause of older drivers reporting that they didn’t “see” a pedestrian in the parking lot could stem from a number of sources.  Authentic vision concerns can include anything from refractive errors, age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma, to cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or a decline in peripheral vision.  Consideration should also be given to the fact that ninety percent of the information we need to respond to driving cues comes through our eyes, making vision the single most important sense for safe driving.

In a project by the National Safety Council (NSC) titled “Understanding the Distracted Brain”, researchers found that distracted drivers have a tendency to “look at” but not “see” objects.  Distracted drivers experience what researchers call inattention blindness, similar to that of tunnel vision.  According to the study, drivers are looking out the windshield, but they do not process everything in their driving environment, which significantly limits their ability to effectively monitor their surroundings, seek and identify potential hazards, and respond to unexpected situations.

Tips for Older Drivers in Preventing Parking Lot Crashes

So what can the older driver do to mitigate the likelihood of being involved in a parking lot crash?  Below is a cursory list of suggestions:

  • Use only pull-through parking spots; don’t park in a spot that you will have to back out of!
  • Take-up enjoyable activities like gardening, swimming, walking, etc. to help keep you in good physical shape.
  • Talk to your doctor about recommended exercises designed to maintain the flexibility and strength needed for safe driving.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any type of peripheral neuropathy, especially in your hands or feet.
  • Remain vigilant and expect the unexpected (child running in front of your car, etc.).
  • Consider vehicle adaptations to mitigate the potential of an accident (oversize rear view mirrors to help eliminate blind spots, adjustable foot pedals, etc.).
  • Correctly set the outside mirrors. Consider adding blind spot mirrors to the side mirrors.
  • When possible, park away from other cars, and don’t park in a spot that you will have to BACK out of!
  • Do not drive if you are taking medications that might impair your judgment, vision, reflexes, etc.
  • Take advantage of new technology such as parking assist features, collision avoidance systems and rear view cameras (which can be added after-market).
  • Remain alert to cars reversing by watching for backup lights. If a car begins backing up, get out of the way or make sure the driver can see you.
  • Use only pull-through parking spots; don’t park in a spot that you will have to back out of!
  • Practice good defensive driving skills.
  • Shop on lower volume days, which equates to less parking lot congestion. The Time Use Institute reports that the least crowded shopping days are Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Wear appropriate shoes for driving and make sure your floor mat is positioned properly.
  • Keep the windows clear and void of obstructions; use the vehicle’s defrosters to your full advantage.
  • Tap your horn (similar to a back-up warning system found on construction vehicles) before backing.
  • Eliminate as many in-vehicle distractions as possible (turn the radio off, discontinue conversations and remember to leave any pets at home).
  • Lastly…use only pull-through parking spots; don’t park in a spot that you will have to back out of!

Summary

Parking lot crashes involving older drivers can be caused by any number of contributing factor(s), including but not limited to driver inattention, distractions from either inside or outside of the vehicle, declining muscle mass, medication issues, pedal misapplication, mental fitness and declines in cognition, medical emergencies, pre-existing medical conditions, declining vision, fatigue, poor flexibility, unfamiliarity with the vehicle, improper seat or mirror positioning, improper blood sugar levels, or in some very rare cases…just plain carelessness.

Beyond Driving with Dignity-Older Drivers

This is the first article in a three-part series that addresses the issue of parking lot tragedies involving older drivers.  Simply by having a better understanding of the dangers parking lots pose, remaining vigilant and applying any number of the tips listed above is sure to improve parking lot safety for older drivers and pedestrians alike.

In our next article, we will take a critical look at crashes involving older drivers driving into storefronts, examining why they occur and what steps can be taken to reduce their likelihood.  And in our final article we will review steps that older drivers can take to keep themselves safe after they have successfully parked their car and are now pedestrians in the parking lot.

To receive our future articles please subscribe to the Keeping Us Safe blog at https://keepingussafe.wordpress.com/

Additional Resources

Flexibility Fitness Training for Improving Older Driver Performance (AAA)

The Role of Exercise in Older Driver Safety

Older Drivers and Emerging Vehicle Safety Technologies

Adapting Motor Vehicles for Older Drivers (NHTSA)

______________________________________________________________

Authored 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 the Keeping Us Safe 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.

If you are interested in becoming one of North America’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals, click here.

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Cleveland, Ohio Nurse Receives National “Bill & Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award”

Keeping Us Safe is proud to announce that Lisa Profio, LPN from Cleveland, Ohio, is the recipient of the 2014 “Bill and Betty Fresch Award for Outstanding Achievement”.

Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families throughout the United States and Canada.  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.

Keeping Us Safe-Lisa Profio

Lisa Profio, LPN

A North Royalton resident, Profio has been a nurse for 38 years and also runs University Hospitals Parma Medical Center’s Club for those with early stage memory loss.  She received her “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professional certification from Keeping Us Safe in February, 2012.

“Lisa is most deserving of this award” says Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe.  “Lisa’s professional experience, compassion and empathy have made her 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, Profio serves as a facilitator for Keeping Us Safe’s ‘self-assessment program’ for older drivers.  This individualized program has been designed to serve as a valuable tool in helping older drivers (and their 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 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.

Keeping us Safe-Bill and Betty Fresch

Bill & Betty Fresch

Jo Rinehart and Paul Fresch (daughter and son of Bill & Betty Fresch) were honorary guests at the ceremony and explained “We are honored that our parents’ names will live on in this way through the Keeping Us Safe programs, and that our story will continue to help other families with the difficult discussions and decisions they must make.  Our sincere thanks and very best wishes to Ms. Profio as she continues her work as one of Keeping Us Safe’s certified ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ professionals.”

“Lisa was selected as the recipient for this award because of her long history of enriching the lives of older adults.  In addition to being very well respected in the community, Lisa also exemplifies the standards and core values of Keeping Us Safe.  Her compassion and empathy when working with older drivers and their families make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat make her an invaluable asset to the Keeping Us Safe team.” says Gurwell.

Laura Matthews, ElderCare manager at University Hospitals Parma Elder Center (and longtime friend of Lisa’s!) explains “The beauty of the Keeping Us Safe program is that it helps older adults make good decisions about their driving skills while preserving their dignity, potentially saving lives.  Lisa takes wonderful care of our families!”

Congratulations Lisa!

Keeping Us Safe-Lisa Profio Award Presentation

Paul Fresch, Jo Rinehart, Nancy Schuster (last year’s award winner) and Matt Gurwell gather to help recognize Lisa Profio for her outstanding achievement!

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The Role of Exercise in Older Driver Safety

Keeping Us Safe Exercise and Older Drivers

Introduction

We all know the value exercise plays in helping to keep us healthy as we age.  Studies have shown that aerobic exercise alone can improve overall brain function (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 seniors safe behind the wheel as they 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?

A Quick Note About Falls

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one out of three older adults (65+) fall each year.  Even the most basic exercise program can help develop stronger muscle tone which can help older drivers get in and out of their car more easily.  Just as importantly, a well-attended exercise routine can also help prevent falls in the home.

A recent study conducted by the Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine and the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama (Birmingham), 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 automobile accident, and a whopping 2 times as likely to be involved in an at-fault accident.

Additional Research

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 the 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 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.

Marketers have coined the term “exergamers”, which references older adults who are Keeping Us Safe Exercise for Grandparentsusing Xbox, Wii and PlayStation gaming platforms as an entertaining way to exercise, often times in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.  A blog post titled “Why Wii Fit is Best for Grandparents” appeared in the Well section of the NY Times website and told of a study in which an 89 year old woman with a balance disorder and a history of falls significantly improved her scores on a series of balance tests after just six sessions of Wii Bowling.  For good reason, many senior centers are now equipping their facilities with “exergaming” systems.

There are many online resources available to offer tips on exercise and safe driving.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers a free brochure titled “Flexibility Fitness Training for Improving Older Driver Performance”.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Senior Health website offers specific exercises on improving endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.  Of course, remember to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

If you would like help finding exercise resources in your community, please contact Keeping Us safe at 877-907-8841 or by email at info@keepingussafe.org.


Authored 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 the Keeping Us Safe 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 Webinar: Become Certified as a “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional

Beyond Driving with Dignity Training Webinars

Keeping Us Safe has released the December schedule of introductory webinars for individuals interested in becoming one of the nation’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals.

The webinar is for qualifying professionals interested in:

  • Making a positive difference in your community
  • Learning a new skill that will challenge and reward you at the same time
  • Being challenged on an interpersonal level as you problem solve for families
  • Expanding the current marketing reach of your business or non-profit organization
  • Making yourself or your organization even more marketable to your internal and external customers
  • Becoming part of an emerging, national team of experts in facilitating Keeping Us Safe’s “self-assessment program for older drivers™”

In addition to saving lives, it is worthy to note that becoming certified in the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program is an excellent way to further your personal revenue stream, or to further the professional revenue stream (and marketing efforts!) of your business or organization.

If you are interested in becoming part of our team, we cordially invite you to join us for this 30 minute, quick-paced, informational webinar on the benefits of becoming certified in this nationally-recognized program.  These complimentary webinars will be offered as follows:

  •  December 3, 2014 at 7PM (EST)
  •  December 9, 2014 at 2PM (EST)
  •  December 18, 2014 at 11AM (EST)
  •  December 22, 2014 at 3PM (EST)
  •  December 30, 2014 at 1PM (EST)

To register for any one of the webinars please visit: http://keepingussafe.org/becomingacbddprofessional.htm.

For more information on the certification program you may also download our brochure at:  http://keepingussafe.org/linked/brochurebddprofessionalcertification011314.pdf

To learn more about Keeping Us Safe’s programs, please visit our website at http://www.keepingussafe.org.  Specific inquiries made be made by email at info@keepingussafe.org or by telephone at 877-907-8841.

 

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Columbus Dispatch Article: “How to persuade an elderly relative to stop driving”

Keeping Us Safe-Columbus Dispatch

The article appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on November 14, 2014, and made positive reference to Keeping Us Safe’s “Enhanced Self-Assessment Program” for older drivers.

The author, Joe Blundo wrote…

Matt Gurwell, a retired trooper for the State Highway Patrol, has a Cleveland-based business, Keeping Us Safe, devoted to being the third party who, when necessary, delivers the bad driving news.

For $350, he (or another staff member) will meet with elderly drivers for a three-hour session, much of it devoted to assessment of their cognitive skills, such as memory. If he thinks it’s safe, he’ll ride with clients to see how they do behind the wheel, too.

“Two-thirds of the people actually retire from driving during the session,” he said.

Two years ago, Laura Cox of Westerville hired Gurwell to assess her mother, a Cleveland resident who was 77 at the time and showing signs of impaired memory. She had, for example, become lost on the way to a familiar Walmart.

At the end of the assessment, Gurwell told her that she needed to give up the keys, and — much to Cox’s relief — she agreed.

“She was still mad as heck at me when he left,” Cox said, “but I wasn’t so much the bad guy anymore.”

Read the entire article here.

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When to Put the Brakes on Your Loved-One’s Driving

 

Keeping Us Safe-Alzheimer's Foundation of America

 

Keeping Us Safe will be presenting “When to Put the Brakes on Your Loved-One’s Driving” to family caregivers as well as healthcare professionals as part of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s ‘Care Connection’ program.  The segment is scheduled for November 13, 2014.

Care Connection, is a national telephone support network for family and professional caregivers sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America—a national non-profit organizations whose mission is to provide optimal care and services to individuals affected by dementia and their families.

“It is an honor to have been selected to participate in the AFA’s Care Connection program” says Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe.  “Addressing the issue of a driving retirement with a loved one can be a very sensitive and emotional issue and must be handled with tact, empathy and compassion.  I am very excited to for the opportunity to share some helpful tips and suggestions with Care Connection listeners.”

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Keeping Us Safe is a national organization with a mission of providing practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families as they face the challenging issue of age-related diminishing driving skills.   “Our ‘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.”  Gurwell added.

Care Connection allows family caregivers and professionals nationwide to gain valuable education from guest speakers on a vast array of topics as well as to connect with other caregivers from across the country.  Plus, they can get much-needed help and advice from the comfort of their own homes or jobs.  As well, Care Connection offers CEUs for professionals who are part of our Dementia Care Professionals of America division.

The teleconference is scheduled for 1PM (EST) on November 13, 2014.  To join the conversation or to learn more about the Care Connection program please visit http://www.alzfdn.org/AFAServices/careconnection.html

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Keeping Us Safe Celebrates 6 Years of Public Service

Keeping Us Safe AnniversaryThis week, Keeping Us Safe proudly celebrates six years of providing services to older drivers and their families.  Founded on November 3, 2008, Keeping Us Safe has dedicated itself to improving the mortality rate of older drivers, while simultaneously providing an invaluable service to concerned families.

Keeping Us Safe’s Greatest Honor in 2014:

When asked what he was most proud of during the past year, Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe explained “It was the development of the ‘Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award’, which is now awarded annually to the one Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional who has gone above and beyond our expectations in helping to deliver this program to the community.  The award is named after Bill and Betty Fresch of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, who, after becoming lost while driving in January, 2011, were found days later frozen to death in a farm field in Frederick County, Maryland.”

Gurwell adds “It is a huge honor to have gotten to know the Fresch family.  They are a very caring, loving and compassionate family who always looked out for their parents.  The family had taken many steps to help keep their parents safe while driving, but unfortunately, their parents’ diminishing cognitive abilities exceeded the safeties the family had put in place.”

“This story, and many others like it, serve as a constant reminder to me personally of not only how precious life is, but also how critically important the issue of properly addressing diminished driving skills is.” explains Gurwell.  “The courage the Fresch family has demonstrated in publicly sharing their story in hopes of keeping a similar tragedy from striking other families is both commendable and remarkable.  Having the Fresch family agree to name this award after their parents is Keeping Us Safe’s greatest honor, not only for 2014, but in our entire business tenure.”

Keeping Us Safe’s Greatest Achievement in 2014:

Gurwell attributes the success of Keeping Us Safe directly to the quality, dedication and professionalism of its Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” (BDD) Professionals.  He explains that collectively, they represent Keeping Us Safe’s greatest achievement for the year.  “The passion and dedication displayed by each and every one of our BDD Professionals is beyond reproach” Gurwell explains.

These individuals, deployed in communities across the United States and Canada, have been trained and certified by Keeping Us Safe to facilitate its “self-assessment program” for older drivers.

Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals are on the front line, working with older drivers and their families every day.  Put another way, they are saving lives and providing untold relief to concerned families on a daily basis.  Gurwell refers to Keeping Us Safe’s BDD Professionals as some of life’s unsung heroes.  “They are very good at what they do”, Gurwell explains, “and that is providing families with the missing link between their desire to bring this issue to a peaceful resolution, and their ability to actually do so.”

“As an organization, we have used our years of experience to better define the attributes of a successful applicant into the certification program.  We are now far more selective in the types of professionals that are accepted into the program, and not everyone that applies is accepted.  We still have active members from our very first training session held in August, 2011; in many ways those earlier pioneers serve as mentors for our newer members.” Gurwell explained.

“Having the good fortune of working with such high quality professionals has been very humbling,” Gurwell explains, “each and every one of our BDD Professionals is representative of Keeping Us Safe’s greatest achievement.”

A Family Recently Touched by Keeping Us Safe:

Last month, one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals facilitated a self-assessment with a lovely older driver who resides outside of Dayton, Ohio.  After the session, the family submitted the following correspondence:

Our mother was 93 years old this year and was driving only in town, where the speed limit is 25 mph for her daily errands. When we were recently notified by the local police of their observations and reports from residents concerned for her safety, the family didn’t feel ready to ask her to stop driving.

After a few months, one family member learned of “Keeping Us Safe” and their programs designed for older drivers. When reading about their founder’s professional background as a state trooper and his personal commitment for this growing need in our aging population, it felt like a perfect fit to schedule a one-on-one session. Their conversational approach through personal and driving abilities was a foundation for us to follow through on the recommendation that “the time for her to stop driving was now”.

As well as the individualized session with our mother, information provided in their “Beyond Driving with Dignity” workbook provided a solid guideline for communicating our decision and for making plans for her transportation needs in a way that allowed her to participate and even enjoy allowing others to drive.  Of course there was emotion and resistance to the idea at first, but it only lasted for one day before she was proudly declaring to caretakers, friends and family that “she” was giving up driving.

We are all so relieved and surprised that the transition went as smoothly as it did.  It can only be due to the personal level of care and experiential assessment that was provided for us and our mother.  If this has been on your mind for your loved one, please don’t wait another day.

Terri Eastman, Yellow Springs, Ohio

“It is very rewarding to receive positive feedback like this from families who have used our services to help a loved-one make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.” stated Gurwell.   These comments serve to validate the life-saving services provided by Keeping Us Safe’s dedicated “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals.

Perhaps Diane Walz, Certified BDD Professional from Sarasota, Florida put it best when she explained “Helping families is not what we do…it’s who we are.”

For additional information on Keeping Us Safe’s programs and services, please visit their website at www.keepingussafe.org or call toll-free at 877-907-8841.

Keeping Us Safe - Nancy Schuster

Nancy Schuster

Editor’s Notes: 

  • Jo Rinehart, daughter of the late Bill and Betty Fresch, now serves on Keeping Us Safe’s five- member Executive Vision Committee.
  • The 2014 winner of the ‘Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award’ was Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Nancy Schuster, MBA, of Cincinnati, Ohio.
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TV Interview: “Ending Driving with Dignity”

Keeping Us Safe-Golden Opportunities

Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, appears on WKYC (NBC) Channel 3’s Golden Opportunities show in a segment titled “Ending Driving with Dignity”.

Watch the video segment here.

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Make a Positive Difference in YOUR Community

Keeping Us Safe-Helping OthersKeeping Us Safe has released the November schedule of introductory webinars for individuals interested in becoming one of the nation’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals.

The webinar is for qualifying professionals interested in:

  • Making a positive difference in your community
  • Learning a new skill that will challenge and reward you at the same time
  • Being challenged on an interpersonal level as you problem solve for families
  • Expanding the current marketing reach of your business or non-profit organization
  • Making yourself or your organization even more marketable to your internal and external customers?
  • Becoming part of an emerging, national team of experts in facilitating Keeping Us Safe’s “self-assessment program for older drivers™”?

In addition to saving lives, it is worthy to note that becoming certified in the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program is an excellent way to further your personal revenue stream, or to further the professional revenue stream (and marketing efforts!) of your business or organization.

If you are interested in becoming part of our team, we cordially invite you to join us for this 30 minute, quick-paced, informational webinar on the benefits of becoming certified in this nationally-recognized program.  These complimentary webinars will be offered as follows:

  • November 7, 2014 at 2PM (EST)
  • November 13, 2014 at 5PM (EST)
  • November 19, 2014 at 11AM (EST)
  • November 25, 2014 at 3PM (EST)

To register for any one of the webinars please visit:http://keepingussafe.org/becomingacbddprofessional.htm.

For more information on the certification program you may also download our brochure at: http://keepingussafe.org/linked/brochurebddprofessionalcertification011314.pdf

To learn more about Keeping Us Safe’s programs, please visit our website at http://www.keepingussafe.org.  Specific inquiries made be made by email at info@keepingussafe.org or by telephone at 877-907-8841.

 

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