Seniors, Dementia and Driver's Licenses
A Critical Challenge for Families and Physicians
As the baby boomers age, Stats Canada is projecting a ‘tsunami of seniors’ – most with drivers licenses. And the numbers of people diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s are increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, some analysts suggest the number of drivers with dementia in Ontario will more than double from about 45,000 today to nearly 100,000 in 2028. Many will continue to drive as long as they can stay under the radar.
The Numbers Tell a Story
Since January 2011, more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old every day, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.
The number of drivers with dementia in Ontario will more than double from about 45,000 today to nearly 100,000 in 2028, according to a Queen’s University study.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US) reports that most older drivers can expect to outlive their driving ability by about 7-10 years.
Research on age-related driving concerns has shown that at around the age of 65 drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash-related injury and death.
“Driving with Dementia - the new impaired driving?” was a headline in the Toronto Star in February 2012; and an article entitled “Physicians open to ideas on how to assess and discuss fitness to drive” appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in March 2012.
Sons, daughters and health care providers are looking for options and services to refer their families and patients to when the topic of a retirement from driving becomes inevitable. And a proactive approach is always better than a reactive approach.
Thanks to a lot of hard work by Matt Gurwell, Beyond Driving with Dignity (BDD) has recently been launched in Ontario and may be the answer for many health care professionals and families struggling with the problem.
Beyond Driving with Dignity helps the older driver – and their family – make a rationale decision based on fact to plan for a retirement from driving when the time comes.
Matt is a former Ohio State Trooper. He explained, “The program 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 having them deal with it when an Ohio State Trooper is knocking on their front door."
As the name of the program suggests, dignity is an important element of the process. The goal of the Beyond Driving with Dignity program is to help keep seniors independent and driving for as long as possible, but when in the interest of safety a driving retirement becomes appropriate, the assessment facilitates the transfer from the drivers seat to the passenger seat.
A Certified BDD Professional guides the self-assessment. The 3-hour in-home program utilizes exercises, tools and screenings designed to help the older driver and concerned family members make appropriate driving-related decisions. The process is designed to provide guidance and support to help the driver make a smooth transition into driving retirement, if and when it is necessary. It is a common-sense approach to facilitate - and often times mediate - rational driving related solutions based on tangible facts and personal observations. It is a proactive approach, which includes the older driver in the decision making process.
John Bauslaugh, a long time expert on senior issues, is available to do BDD Assessments in the Hamilton, Toronto and GTA areas. John can be reached at 905-309-1525 or email@example.com. The Silver Pages is a proud sponsor of Beyond Driving with Dignity in Ontario. Visit BDD on Facebook for regular updates at : https://www.facebook.com/BDDCanadaBack To Top