When is it Time for the Older Driver to turn in their Car Keys?

Older DriversTo this day, I will never forget the first and last time I rode with my 85-year-old father in law. The light was green as we approached a major intersection and all of a sudden he decided to slow down almost coming to a complete stop in the middle of the intersection. I tried not to panic but I quickly encouraged him to step on the gas and keep driving. That was a scary moment for me; I also worried about my father and mother in law as well as all the drivers around us. To my father in law, like most people, driving represented independence, control and freedom. Any discussions we had with him about his driving became emotionally charged. He would show us his valid driver’s license, which meant to him that he was a good driver and no one was going to tell him any different.

We were fortunate, one day my father in law announced that he was selling his car and was no longer going to drive. We were shocked at his announcement, whole-heartedly supported his decision and did not ask a lot of questions as to why. Months later we learned from my mother in law that just before his decision to turn in the car keys they were almost hit broad side by a semi-truck. The truck had to swerve to the other lane to miss them. They were lucky and I realized that as hard as it is, having that conversation or taking action when concerned about an older driver could save their lives and the lives of others.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) older drivers are more likely to be killed or injured in a crash than any other age group. From 2003 to 2012 the number of licensed older drivers increased by 21 percent and now there are over 35 million licensed older drivers on the road today. What are the top 5 crash types for older drivers?

  1. Turning left at an intersection with a stop sign.
  2. Turning left at an intersection on a green light without a dedicated green arrow.
  3. Turning right at a yield sign to merge with traffic speeds of 40 to 45 mph.
  4. Merging onto a highway from a ramp that has a yield sign.
  5. Changing lanes on a road that has four or more lanes.

When is the older driver at risk? What are the warning signs? How do I begin a conversation when I become concerned? What can I do if they won’t stop driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a booklet called “How to Understand and Influence Older Drivers” that will help answer all of these questions and provide you with other valuable resources.

Joplin TV Station Covers Oxford’s Fan Drive

Posted on in News

Oxford HealthCare and Hospice hosted their first annual “Fans for Life” event in the Joplin area July 10th – a special distribution of 100 box fans to disabled persons and senior citizens age 65 and over. “The elderly and those with chronic illness are the most vulnerable to heat-related complications,” says Wes McGuirk, Oxford Regional Director. A packet explaining the risks of heat exposure and the importance of hydration is provided along with each fan.

Oxford has also partnered with area Offices on Aging to distribute fans to the homebound via the Meals on Wheels program. Since 2009, Oxford has given out more than 1500 fans to those in need.

Click here to watch media coverage of the Fans for Life event.

Is it Alzheimer’s? Learn The Early Signs and Symptoms

By Carol Combs, Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator.

Dementia is a broad term that describes the progressive deterioration of a person’s memory. It affects the brain’s ability to think, reason and remember—and ultimately interferes with the person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. It makes up about 70% of all dementia cases. It’s the 6th leading cause of death and an estimated five million Americans are living with the disease.

Dementia becomes more common with age, but is not a normal part of the aging process. For example, with normal aging, a person might misplace their keys, but then find them. However, a person with Alzheimer’s might misplace their keys, find them, but also forget what the keys are used for.

In the early stage of dementia, the signs and symptoms may be subtle. Early memory issues may present as depression, anxiety, mood or personality changes. By the time the person shows signs of the disease, the process in the brain could have been happening for a long time.

Here are 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s to look for (1, 2):

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: This can include forgetting recently learned information, dates or events and needing memory aides such as calendars and notes.
  2. Challenges in planning or problem solving: Difficulty with concentration, tasks taking longer to accomplish, difficulty with working with numbers or following a plan
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure, following recipes, managing a budget and driving
  4. Confusion with time or place, losing track of dates, seasons, passage of time
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, vision problems, trouble reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing, trouble following or joining conversation or struggle with vocabulary
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, putting things in unusual places, may accuse others of stealing
  8. Decreased or poor judgment, changes in decision making ability, may pay less attention to grooming
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities, may remove themselves from hobbies, projects or socialization
  10. Changes in mood or personality, may be suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious or more easily upset

Some medical conditions causing memory loss are treatable and should be evaluated. If you, or someone you know, are having any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical assessment immediately.

1 Mace, Nancy and Peter Rabins: The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons With Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life (3rd Edition), Market Paperback, April 1, 2001

2 Alzheimer’s Association. What is Alzheimer’s? http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp