087: Driving Assessment for Seniors: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Approaching the topic of driving with seniors can be one of the most challenging conversations that families face. If a senior has a medical condition, must take medications, or hasn’t driven much in the last few years, it can affect their ability to drive safely. And unfortunately, it’s often up to the family to address these concerns, but it can be difficult to know where to start or what the impairment is.

In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk Live, attorney Madison Gunn talks with Melanie Henry of Driver Cognitive Assessment Center (DCAC) about the services and assessments available to help families make decisions regarding their loved one’s driving skills. The goal of DCAC is to offer seniors fair and accurate evaluations positively and compassionately while working to keep communities safe. They also provide support to families and physicians to help them address driving concerns with their loved ones.

Some of the topics covered in this podcast include:

  • How to handle your concerns if you fear your senior family member should no longer be driving
  • The types of driving assessments available for these seniors
  • How the assessment results are handled and reported

And more.

Melanie’s background includes social welfare, risk assessment, and senior caregiver. She is a licensed driving school instructor and also helps provide medical rides to Tri-Valley Seniors with a local non-profit named the Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley. We’re excited to have her highlight a topic that many people avoid. If you or someone close to you could benefit from a driving assessment, you’ll want to listen to this podcast to hear more about how you can handle this concern in a loving and understanding way.

Big Three from Episode #087:

  1. If you start to notice a general decline in a senior close to you, or if you’ve noticed telltale signs that driving has become a challenge for that person, it’s important to address it. As the founder and owner of the Driver Cognitive Assessment Center, Melanie Henry offers science-based evaluations to gauge a driver’s abilities.
  2. Driver assessments include a guided computer-based portion to an on-road evaluation on a specially built course. The results are only released to those the driving client specifies, but ideally should be provided to a physician who can help determine next steps.
  3. If the driver is found to be too unsafe for the road, Melanie works with families to connect them with all of the transportation options in the area they live.

Time-stamped Show Notes:

0:00 Introduction

0:58 Madison Gunn introduces Melanie Henry, founder, and CEO of Driver Cognitive Assessment Center.

2:24 If someone is worried about their parents’ driving or thinks they should no longer be driving, they can call DCAC for a complimentary consultation. Here’s what you need to know.

4:25 The idea of taking a driving assessment can be anxiety-inducing for many people. Listen in as Melanie and Madison talk about how she works with the family and the older adult – getting them comfortable with the assessment and the process.

5:39 The assessment process combines a computer-based skills test, followed by an on-road evaluation on a specialized course. Press play to hear Melanie walk listeners through what the assessment looks like.

9:24 Unlike a DMV assessment, these assessments calculate the types of errors and frequency. Again, it’s a special assessment for older adults.

10:40 The driver has to determine who can receive the results. In some families, children go through doctors to obtain referrals rather than handle it themselves. Results are not reported to the DMV.

12:25 Besides a family member sending a referral, doctors can request assessments if a patient has mild cognitive impairment or has suffered a stroke, heart failure, or diabetes. Assessments can also be used as a baseline. Know someone who may need an assessment? Start listening now for more.

13:36 Studies show that a person who has had two or more falls in a year is more likely to experience a decline in driving skills. A neurological assessment and a driving assessment are both recommended if this happens.

14:00 What happens if a doctor reports someone to the DMV? Can Melanie’s assessment help in an appeal?

15:12 There are some cases where the DMV revokes a license, and the driver can appeal within ten days. Melanie can help the driver navigate that situation. These are the steps that you need to take.

16:08 DCAC also offers services for drivers who need a refresher after being isolated throughout the pandemic or who have turned 70 and need to retake the driver’s test. Melanie talks about this special course and some other tips and tools for older adults.

19:41 Once the assessment report is finalized, help doesn’t stop there. DCAC works with clients to find transportation services in their area.

21:51 Are people receptive when they receive their assessment results? Sometimes they can take the results hard. DCAC can offer repeat assessments after a waiting period.

24:41 Melanie names some of the many transportation services available to seniors in the Bay Area and what other options an older adult has to get around.

27:02 Q&A: Is Melanie a mandated reporter to the DMV? Does she have to report to the patient’s doctor, or only if requested?

28:51 Q&A: Are the DCAC assessments only for seniors? Does Melanie assess people who might have other cognitive impairments or special needs? DCAC assessments are not designed for younger people with other cognitive impairments. They’re intended for experienced drivers.

31:25 Melanie talks about a new program she’s working on growing in the Bay Area with the AAA and AARP called Car Fit to help seniors get fitted for their cars.

Get in Touch with Melanie!
Melanie Henry
Owner and Founder
Driver Cognitive Assessment Center
4450 Black Avenue, Suite D
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Resources/Links Mentioned in this Episode:

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