Category: Driving Rehabilitation

When should you stop driving…

A big thank you to guest blogger, Kiara Tucker Covell Intern with University of Northern Colorado.

It’s one of the hardest conversations to have with your senior parent but also a very important one: When should you stop driving? Most people try to avoid this conversation because they feel that it is best when their doctor or caregiver tells them it’s that time. Unfortunately, doctors and caregivers might not tell your senior when that time is, so it is on you to look for the warning signs to keep them safe. If you are lucky enough to ride along with them, it will be easier to tell when that time is. Some signs include driving too fast or too slow, improper lane changes, and confusing the brake and the gas pedal. They can also become very distracted while driving and maybe hit some curbs. If you are not able to drive with them, you can also look over the car to inspect for any scrapes or damage. But even if you cannot be near your senior, there are some other signs that will tell you it might be time to have the conversation. If your senior parent has arthritis, dementia, or any vision and hearing difficulties, they might not be suitable to drive. Another sign is they have hindered reactions to unforeseen situations. Although this might be a hard conversation, it’s a very important one because it will help keep them safe and others on the road. “Over the past year, 14 million Americans aged 18 to 64 were estimated to be involved in accidents caused by drivers aged 65 and over” (Gold, 2015). With this many people impacted, it is important to look over your loved ones and have that conversation when it’s time.

If you start noticing some of these signs, it is time to have that conversation and also time for an evaluation. At Covell Care, a certified driving rehabilitation specialist can conduct and evaluation that gives recommendations on driving retirement, retractions, and/ or compensatory strategies. We also provide occupational therapy services that can help your loved one with this transition. (970) 204-4331

Senior Driving: Warning Signs

The winter months are a season that all drivers give thought to cautious driving when weather changes and also seems to be a time when older drivers question if they should even go out on the roads. It is hard for families to truly understand when their loved one is at risk for an accident, when to reach out for expert help or if driving should even be an option.

It is a good idea to keep in mind the many warning signs that driving is a concern. If one warning sign is present that person may benefit from further discussion on driving with their physician, participation in a driving program or worse case scenario stop driving. AAA has many resources to support this decision and senior drivers (https://seniordriving.aaa.com/). Below is a list of warning signs to keep in mind when making a decision on next steps of a loved one’s driving ability.

  • The senior driver has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years. Tickets can predict greatest risk for collision.
  • The senior driver has been involved in two or more collisions or “near-misses” in the past two years. Rear-end crashes, parking lot fender-benders and side collisions while turning across traffic rank as the most common mishaps for drivers with diminishing skills, depth perception or reaction time.
  • Does the senior driver confuse the gas and brake pedals or have difficulty working them? Drivers who lift their legs to move from the accelerator to the brake, rather than keeping a heel on the floor and pressing with the toes, may be signaling waning leg strength.
  • Does the senior driver seem to ignore or miss stop signs and other traffic signals? Perhaps the driver is inattentive or cannot spot the signs in a crowded, constantly moving visual field.
  • Does the senior driver weave between or straddle lanes? Signaling incorrectly or not at all when changing lanes can be particularly dangerous, especially if the driver fails to check mirrors or blind spots.
  • Do other senior drivers honk or pass frequently, even when the traffic stream is moving relatively slowly? This may indicate difficulty keeping pace with fast-changing conditions.
  • Does the senior driver get lost or disoriented easily, even in familiar places? This could indicate problems with working memory or early cognitive decline.
  • Does the driver have a history of falls? If yes, they are 40% more likely to be involved in a crash.
  • Has there been a new diagnosis? Note ‘red flag’ diagnosis: sleep apnea, dementia, MS, Parkinson’s, diabetes.

Take this list as a guide in your next conversation or car ride with a loved one. Please contact our office with specific questions on Covell Care’s driving rehabilitation program.

Please join Covell Care for an intimate presentation on driving rehabilitation and bossy bladder March 7th 11:30-1:15 (includes lunch!), next week at The Hillcrest of Loveland, 535 Douglas Ave, Loveland, CO 80537. Contact the Hillcrest with questions: (970) 541-4173. https://www.mbkseniorliving.com/senior-living/co/loveland/hillcrest-of-loveland/

What to look for with your loved one this holiday season…

The holiday season is a time of gatherings with friends and families, visits to your loved one’s home and hours upon hours of conversation. This is a time when you see a new perspective or maybe even see the truth behind the multiple phone calls or short visits that happen throughout the year.

Go into your holiday season with some insight to better understand your loved ones, their situation and needs. Don’t forget to pack the Aging Life Care Association’s ‘red flag’ list with you when you leave for the holidays.

  1. Scan & take mental notes about your loved one’s environment. Signs of damage in the home, on their vehicle, unopened mail, items placed in unusual areas, decline in cleanliness.
  2. Check out their food. Is there enough food, is it expired, notice any changes in weight (up or down).
  3. Has their mood or behavior changed in any way? Has their social life changed, do they have new friends, are they donating large amounts to organizations, is there an increase in confusion, are they walking differently or change a routine, are they irritable or withdrawn.
  4. Are they keeping up on their personal hygiene? Dressing for the day, showering regularly, do you smell urine or bowels, are their clothes clean, notice any bruising on their skin.

There are many other small pieces you can take away from an encounter with a loved one but here is a start. If you notice any changes and don’t know where to turn contact us for some direction. (970) 204-4331.

Wishing you and your family a happy, safe holiday season!

OT Celebrates 100 Years!

Occupational therapy celebrates an epic birthday this year—one hundred years! OT professionals have been providing treatment for clients using meaningful occupations to reach therapeutic goals for an entire century. At Covell Care, we are especially thankful for the pioneers of OT because our business is richly embedded with the philosophies and roots of this unique profession.
Occupational therapy is based on the theory that all of us wake up every day with the desire to interact in meaningful tasks (aka occupations) and we are the skilled professionals that help people maximize what they can do.
Did you know that a recent outcome study showed that OT was the only spending category that reduced hospital re-admissions for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction. (Rogers, Bai, Lavin, & Anderson, 2016). That’s worth celebrating! 
We just received an email today from one of the Covell OT’s that one of his clients is now using his arm when he couldn’t move the shoulder at all when services began. He can even throw a ball now!
Another one of his clients improved so much in his abilities to manage his walker and safety issues that he can do housework and beat our OT in putt-putt golf!
One of my clients feared baking in her kitchen due to cognitive changes she has experienced because of multiple sclerosis. Guess what she did this week? Made a vanilla-apple-cream cake without making any mistakes.
These are the things that matter to our clients and we are the blessed therapists that can help them reach their goals. Think about your day and routine and what’s important to you. Anything from the mundane tasks like brushing your teeth or taking a shower to the special moments like taking your daughter to her first day of school or baking your famed Christmas cookies… what if you couldn’t do them? You would want someone to help you. That person is likely an OT.
Covell Care is often confused for a traditional home care agency because we provide so many of our treatments in the clients’ homes. But, we also provide services at the golf course, the grocery store, the city bus stop, local coffee shops, fast food restaurants. We provide services where people live because it matters SO much to the therapeutic process. We do this because when I established the business, I knew our clients needed to be seen wherever they lived, worked and played. Therefore, all of our services are available outside of a clinic setting. PT, SLP, counseling, massage, personal training, driving rehabilitation, care management. This is based on my training as an OT and understanding the critical role of being in your natural environment for rehabilitation.
It is so awesome and exciting to be part of a profession that continues to grow in research, treatment effectiveness and creativity. We are thrilled to be advancing the profession along with the thousands of OT professionals around the globe. Our innovative model has earned us recognition from the American Occupational Therapy Association and makes traditional healthcare companies wonder what category we fit in. OT is at our roots and we will continue celebrating and helping our clients live, work and play to the best of their abilities through context based, creative, sound treatment interventions.

YOU are an Important Part of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

“I can’t take away Mom’s keys. She would kill me.”

“Dad has some dings on his car! Guess he’s losing his edge.”

“I saw Mom going the wrong way to church. But, she figured it out!”

“My mom left the house and was lost for two days. She managed to find herself a hotel in Denver and get home but she got pulled over on the way home. And she obviously had hit something cause the car had a big dent.”

All of these statements come from people we know with older loved ones that are driving and likely should not be. And all of these statements come from people that did not want to have the conversation about driving retirement with their family member.

Why would the families not address driving with their older adult loved ones? To put it simply: It is hard. They face a great loss for someone they love. It means the person that took care of them growing up is losing their ability to be independent. We want the people we love to have freedom and not require assist for rides to. People that are facing losing their right to drive may feel sad, angry, frustrated, and grief over what that may really mean and the loss of autonomy. Sometimes people have dementia which can make it more difficult, and even impossible, for them to understand they are no longer capable drivers. And this can create great conflict within families.

This week is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. And it is important to us that people in our community know there are supportive services to facilitate families in these transitions. Perhaps your loved one actually IS okay to drive. Or maybe restrictions like not driving at night or only in areas where the speed limit doesn’t go over 45 mph would be safe. If your loved one is NOT safe to drive, a skilled Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist can help you through this transition with support, communication with physicians and ideas for what to do next. The key is to have a qualified professional provide a thorough evaluation looking at all aspects of driving and then completing an on-the-road assessment.

 

If you feel that your loved one struggles with safe driving it is imperative you find the support you need and address these issues as soon as possible. The risk in avoiding this conversation can literally become a life or death issue–both for your loved one and anyone else that may end up being hurt or killed in a car accident. Qualified professionals can help you through these difficult conversations and transition.  Listed below are steps that will help you in this journey.

  1. Identify concerns your loved one may display: This may look like getting lost, difficulty with vision, falling, lower body weakness, increased dents on the car, reporting of a fender bender or bumping into things in parking lots, traffic tickets, difficulty with directions, observed safety concerns.
  2. Talk to your loved one about the changes you have noticed. Or, if you are not noticing changes now, start the conversation with your loved one about what it may look like down the road if they are no longer safe to drive. It is never too early to start talking about this.
  3. Talk to your loved one’s doctor. Physicians can refer to agencies and companies that work in driver rehabilitation. Ask specifically for this referral from the physician either over the phone or in person. Covell Care and Rehab’s driving rehabilitation program can fit most people’s needs. If we can not, we will refer you to someone that can. A physician will often not recommend whether or not a client can drive safely.
  4. Schedule an appointment with your loved one to meet with a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist. Expect a 90 minute to two hour initial evaluation, potentially an on-the-road assessment and follow up including recommendations, restrictions and options for future repeat evaluations or plan for changed in driving status.

The worlds of driving rehabilitation and driving retirement can feel overwhelming. With skilled professionals to help you and your loved ones these topics can become more manageable. Call us for more information or visit http://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Older-Driver-Safety-Awareness-Week.aspx for more information about this important awareness week!