Class Helps Family Know When To Take Keys Away

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The issue of older citizens behind the wheel is a growing concern.

People over 65 are the fastest growing population in the United States. By 2030, one in five drivers will be age 65 and older, which means there will be more than 30 million older drivers on our roads.


We Need to Talk:Family Conversations with Older Drivers

When: 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28

Where: Payson Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway

Cost: Free

Call: (928) 472-1275

Because of their fragility, seniors have the highest crash/death rate per mile of anyone, except teenagers.

To help families, care givers and health providers develop strategies for dealing with the issue, the American Association of Retired Persons has created a new program, "We Need to Talk ... Family Conversations with Older Drivers" and it is being piloted in Arizona.

Payson is one of the few communities selected to try the program.

The goal of the program is to help seniors transition from driving to not driving with dignity. An informational seminar designed to assist adult children in talking about altering or stopping the driving of a parent, older friend or loved one.

"It is also for care givers and health care providers," said Dr. Ginny Creager, a member of the Arizona AARP Executive Council.

The hour-long seminar was developed through collaboration by AARP, Hartford Financial Resources Group and MIT AgeLab. During the presentation, Arizona AARP State Coordinator for Driver Safety Tom Burch will discuss topics such as:

  • The meaning and importance of driving to older adults;
  • Recognizing the warning signs of unsafe driving;
  • A cost analysis of driving versus using alternative transportation;
  • Who should begin the discussion;
  • Identifying opportunities to begin the discussion; and
  • Creating a plan using alternative transportation so the older adult can stay connected to their community.

"The materials are excellent," Creager said. "There are checklists (to determine how severe a senior's problems with driving might be)."

The seminar will be offered at two separate times at the Payson Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway on Tuesday, Nov. 28. The first presentation will be at 10:30 a.m., the second will be at 1:30 p.m. Both are free and open to the public. For more information, please call Senior Circle at (928) 472-1275.

In March of this year, the Payson Roundup ran an article on seniors driving by Felicia Megdal. The following was reported at that time:

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in its 2004 report, chronicled the facts of senior motorists: Drivers 55 and older cause 21 percent of automobile fatalities and 17 percent of nonfatal accidents.

Payson police officers say senior-induced fender benders and serious accidents are on the rise.

On the same day Payson police responded to a fatal accident involving a motorcycle and senior driver, Bramlet said three other incidents involving seniors occurred: Two 68-year-old drivers collided on Manzanita Street and a 70-year-old woman, pushed the gas instead of the brakes and ran over a pedestrian just a few hundred feet away from the emergency personnel working on the fatal accident.

But the 71-year-old woman arrested for driving under the influence represents the most rampant problem among seniors: Taking prescription medications and getting behind the wheel.

Jim Serfling, local AARP driver safety instructor, encourages senior motorists to update their driving skills.

The Payson Senior Center also offers affordable transportation. A round-trip outing is $4, additional stops cost more.

To schedule a pickup, call (928) 474-4876.

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