To Drive or Not to Drive – Seniors and Future Mobility Planning

Author:

Senior Services Department

Starting this important conversation –and reducing the anxiety often associated with this transitional period – is the impetus behind the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA)’s “Staying on the Go!” program.

The program underscores the importance of starting this conversation early. JSSA clinical staff hope seniors and their families will allow time to become comfortable with the idea of limited driving and all that it may entail – including the older driver’s desire to be independent, autonomous, socially active, and physically and emotionally healthy. Examining these issues prior to a crisis and “taking away the car keys” can improve safety on the road and reduce stress for everyone.

Once the conversation has begun, the JSSA clinician uses individual’s firsthand account of their situation to begin the assessment. For instance, questions like these: “Has anyone recently expressed concern about your driving? or Have you been honked at recently for no reason? Do other cars or street signs seem to pop out of nowhere sometimes?” are asked.  The clinician also incorporates other self-assessment tools taken from a variety of established sources to further determine individual circumstances and feelings about a potential mobility change.

During the two one-on-one visits, the clinician develops a warm rapport with participants and begins to form an Individualized Driver Transition Plan, to share with the senior – and if he/she agrees – with their family or caregiver. Sessions are held at JSSA, or if someone has recently stopped driving, a session may be held in the home. Often it is not about giving up the car keys, but simply just applying new techniques to make driving safer. Every older driver is unique – each story is different and our program offers personalized guidance that is tailored to his/her needs. The plan can be implemented right away or in stages as needed.

Once a person has participated in the one-on-one, information and referrals are provided to the senior and their families, including information on subsidized transportation programs and appropriate public transportation options.

Inquiries about “Staying on the Go!” can come from many places including older adults looking ahead to their future needs, spouses, adult children who are concerned about their parent’s driving, physicians and even law enforcement. It is important to note that “Staying on the Go!” does not assess an individual’s ability to drive. While the program is just over a year old, JSSA has already found instances where merely having an initial discussion and providing options and resources, has greatly helped clarify a person’s situation and empowered them to, when necessary, voluntarily consider their options instead of being forced to consider only one – giving up the keys. Having the “Staying on the Go!” conversation is the first stop on the road to proactive mobility planning! To learn more about JSSA’s “Staying on the Go!” program and our many other senior services and programs, please send us an email at: contactus@jssa.org.

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