Former Ohio state trooper Matt Gurwell spent 20-plus years delivering bad news to family members about accidents involving older drivers. Now instead of delivering death notifications, he’s helping to preserve family relationships and saving lives with a self-assessment tool called Beyond Driving With Dignity. Matt is the founder of Keeping Us Safe, and Beyond Driving With Dignity is the organization’s proactive approach to helping family members and older drivers make their own decisions, but the right decision, about possibly giving up driving. Not all older adults need to turn over their car keys. In fact, age often has less to do with the decision than cognitive functioning and whether the individual is active. Matt breaks it all down and tells us how the self-assessment tool works. He explains why handicap parking spots actually increase accidents and why he dreads having the conversation with his own father about giving up the car keys. The work of Keeping Us Safe has been recognized by the NY Times, NPR, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, NBC News and many other media outlets and organizations. Note: this episode originally aired December 14, 2017.
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JANA – Wouldn’t it be great if there was a dignified way of helping your mom or dad, or any older driver you care about, for that matter, make the transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat? I know for me it would have been a lot less guilt-inducing if I hadn’t had to hide my mother’s car keys when she began showing signs of dementia and I began fearing for her safety. I wish I’d known about the work of today’s guest. Matt Gurwell is a retired Ohio State trooper and founder of Keeping Us Safe, a national organization whose mission is to keep older drivers safe and, dare I say, their adult children, sane. Matt Gurwell, welcome to The Agewyz Podcast.
MATT – Thank you, Jana, I’m delighted to be here.
JANA – Well, let’s start by getting an idea of how widespread the problem is of accidents involving older drivers.
MATT – You know, I’m not big into statistics Jana, mostly because I can’t remember them. But one that I do remember is the NHTSA – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – says on average, we are now outliving our safe driving years by 7 to 10 years. So if that’s true, then all of us can expect that the day will come, where it’s simply no longer safe for us to continue driving. We can probably continue doing many of the other things we’re accustomed to doing, but because driving requires so many skills and cognitive effort, you know, those start to slip a little bit with the aging process. So again, all of us can expect the day, now, to come where it’s just no longer okay to continue driving.
JANA – What are the driving years, by the way? How do you define that “beyond the safe driving years”?
MATT – Jana, that’s an excellent question.
JANA – I mean, I can’t imagine there’s one size fits all.
MATT – Absolutely. And that’s what we find that – I’ve met with older drivers in their 90s that are, in my opinion, are doing an outstanding job of driving and I wouldn’t have any problem riding with them anywhere. But yet at the same time I’ve met with younger drivers in their 60s that I wouldn’t ride with to go out and get the mail. Now certainly there is a strong correlation between age and a diminishment in driving skills. But like you alluded to, there is no set age where all of a sudden it’s no longer safe to drive. And unfortunately, we get those calls here, someone will say, Look, my mom just turned whatever, 85 years old, and I don’t think she should be driving any longer. Of course, the follow up question is Why don’t you think she should be driving any longer? And they respond with: I just told you she turned, you know, 85 years old or whatever. And it’s just not that way. Again, there is a correlation, but you can’t base it on age. In fact, we have a three-hour session where we sit down and work with the older driver and try to help them make the right decisions about their driving future. But nowhere in that process do we ask the individual their age because it simply is not relevant. These decisions need to be based on skills and not on age.
JANA – Well, I wonder if you could give us an example, from your days as an Ohio State trooper, of when you had to knock on someone’s door and deliver some bad news about an accident involving an older driver.
MATT – Well, that’s not an easy subject to talk about. Certainly you do need to remain calm. You’re right. But fortunately, we receive training in delivering death notifications. But more than the training, you know, there’s an old saying what comes from the heart touches the heart; you have to put yourself in that family’s position. You know, here’s a person that’s banging on my front door to tell me that my husband or my wife, or my kids, or my parents were just killed in a car accident. And you just have to put yourself into those shoes for a moment and be one of those family members and handle that with as much tact and compassion as you possibly can.
MATT – But back to your point, always after delivering a death notification from a car accident, I always thought on the – I call it the long journey back out to my patrol car – that someday I would like to do something that’s more proactive to keep these accidents from happening in the first place. Because law enforcement, as you know, is so reactive. You see someone run a stop sign, then you stop them and ask them kindly not to do that, again. You see someone rob a bank, you stop them and ask them not to do that again for the next 18 to 24 years. So it’s – so much of it is reactive.
MATT – Now that, fortunately that has changed over recent years and law enforcement now is becoming extremely proactive in their education programs, to try to prevent these crashes. But that was what prompted the founding of Keeping Us Safe. I wanted to do something that was proactive that would keep these accidents from happening, and was a valuable service to the family, so that the family could keep the whole issue in house, so to speak. So the courts didn’t have to become involved. A guardian didn’t have to be appointed, the police department didn’t have to become involved. The state Bureau of Motor Vehicles or Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t have to become involved. So this was all designed to help the family and the older driver make their own decisions, but to make the right decision about possibly giving up driving.
JANA – Right. And I read on your website that you founded the organization in 2008. Was there a particular turning point? Or an event that inspired you? Or was it just as you said.
MATT – Yeah, exactly. And I knew from my years as a state trooper that there was a significant void in the system, so to speak, on how we as a society – so not just here in Ohio or Florida, but across the United States – how we deal with the issue of older drivers with diminished driving skills. So many times different professions don’t really want that hot potato to land in their lap.
MATT – I’ll give you an example. Doctors oftentimes do not want to become involved in that conversation with their patients. Courts are governed by sentencing guidelines, so they have to treat the 85-year-old driver that has run a stop sign and hurt somebody exactly as they do the 35-year-old driver that’s committed the same offense. Legislators, probably, if we surveyed everyone on the air today, many of us would agree that there should probably be some type of retesting for older drivers at some particular age. But yet most of the states across the country do not have mandatory retesting, based simply on age. And there’s all sorts of reasons for that as well. But the point is, there was no place for families to really turn as they became concerned about mom or dad’s driving. And we have tried to fill that void.
JANA – What are some of the fears that come up for older adults with giving up the keys? And for the concerned family members?
MATT – Well, of course, no one wants to lose their independence. But I found a couple interesting things out. We do some presentations for the public as well, as part of our array of services. I talk a lot to groups of older drivers. And I try to instill in them, it’s not a defensive driving class, we don’t talk about what color stop signs are or when to stop for trains. We talk about realizing that, look, this is a very important time in your life. You’re responsible for your safety and the safety of others when you drive. You need to be making the right decisions. And we encourage the older adults to just simply stay aware and be honest with yourself about any diminishment in driving skills. And then make appropriate adjustments in your driving behaviors so that you can actually extend your safe driving career.
MATT – The best example of that in the world is, I like to ask the audience who in here no longer drives at night? And always half the group will raise their hand, I pick one at random: Ma’am, why don’t you drive at night any longer? And she’ll jokingly say, Because I’m blind at night, I can’t see. I can’t see to drive. But the whole point is that’s exactly what we’re talking about and the message we’re trying to convey to them is, stay aware of that diminishment in skill, in this case, vision, nighttime vision, and make adjustments in your driving behavior to compensate for it.
MATT – Another question I like to ask groups of older drivers is – or groups of older adults, I should say – who in here has never driven? And, you know, for me personally, in my family I know neither one of my grandmothers ever drove. And I think that was kind of the norm back in the day. So always I’ll get a couple people that raise their hand and they simply never had a driver’s license. So I’ll pick one of them at random and I’ll ask, Do you think you’ve missed out on life’s opportunities because you never drove? And every single time they respond the same way, and it’s Absolutely not. I’m just as busy as the next person. And I think that’s very interesting. But you can see that they have learned simply not to drive, and they’ve remained as independent as the next person.
MATT – I did one of these sessions six, seven years ago, seven, eight years ago, with 86-year-old Evelyn. Evelyn, when we were introduced prior to the session, she didn’t even want to shake my hand. She kind of cowed away from me and she said, I don’t like you. She said, You’re here to take my keys and to take my car. And I don’t like you.
MATT – I know, I felt bad already. And, and she was serious, though. She didn’t want to shake my hand. But anyhow, we went through the session. And the way it works is, it’s just myself and Evelyn at her kitchen table as we go through the session. And at the very end, Evelyn starts to cry. And she says, you know, very humbly, she said, I know I need to give up driving. She said, but my husband has passed away, I still live at home, I’m able to do that, I’m able to do my other things, and I’m afraid that if I give up driving, I’m going to lose my independence. I’ll become depressed and sick and it’ll eventually be the death of me. So you know, I tried to help her through that and help her family through that.
JANA – Ohhh…
MATT – Well, here’s an interesting thing. A couple months later, Evelyn calls me on the phone. I hadn’t heard from her at all. And she’s crying – still! I said, Evelyn, I said what in the world is the matter? She said, I just want to tell you, I am busier now that I’ve given up driving than I ever have been in my adult life. She said once my friends, my church community, my neighbors, my – everybody else realized that I was no longer driving, they’ve gone out of their way to help keep me involved in the activities that I like to participate in. And she said, I would never have guessed I would say this, but it turns out that giving up driving at this point in my life was the best thing that could have happened to me now.
JANA – How did you even get to the point of having that conversation with Evelyn? Was there a family member who instigated it? Because, I mean, she was so clinging to her independence. Understandably. I’m just wondering, for people who are listening who have parents like this, how did you get her to the table?
MATT – Sure. Well, I have an advantage, and the people that do this for us across the country have an advantage because they’re an independent third party. It’s a lot more difficult for a son or daughter to talk to mom or dad about such a sensitive issue than it is for, you know, someone that doesn’t know this person. But we go through this three-hour program with them at their kitchen table and, you know, truthfully, it doesn’t take us three hours to go through all of the cognitive exercises and all of the other things we do. We do actually go out and go for a ride together, but it doesn’t take three hours. The filler is used to earn the person’s trust and to build a positive rapport with that person.
MATT – We ask them the typical questions you would hear of somebody meeting with you about your driving. You know, Do you have seizures? When was your last eye exam? What medications do you take? How many times have you fallen in the past year? But we also ask questions like, Can you tell me what your very first vacation was as a child? What do you remember most about it? We ask them, Tell me about your first car and tell me what you liked or didn’t like about it. And every time you ask those questions of an older adult, the same thing happens: they get this giant grin on their face. It takes them back to a happy time. Oh my gosh, you’ll hear him say, you know, I remember my first car was such and such, and I don’t even remember the color. But I had a gentleman tell me this one time. He said, What did I like about it? He said it had a bucket seat in the front, and my wife and I, my wife and I could sit next to each other and smooch. His wife has since passed away.
JANA – Oh…. Okay, so I understand why it would be easier for you to have the conversation. I guess my question is, did that older person reach out to you? Or did a family member come to you and say, Would you be willing to speak with my mother?
MATT – I would say 50% – and these are just very rough numbers – but probably half of the referrals we get for this session actually come from adult children. Somebody worried about mom or dad’s driving. The other 25% come from the medical community. We now have hospitals using this program, we have physicians sending their patients to us. And then the last 25% actually come from the older drivers themselves, where they say, Look, I’m not worried about my driving, but the other side of that is, I better have somebody else tell me that my driving is still okay. But typically they do come from adult children.
JANA – And what sort of issues do the children raise?
MATT – Usually, by the time the adult children call, they should have called a year sooner. Because they’ve, you know, they’ve let it go, not with bad intentions, but hoping that it would take care of itself, you know. You know they’re kicking the can down the road, hoping it’ll self-correct somehow, but it doesn’t, and then they become concerned and they call us. But a lot of times it’s over memory issues.
MATT – We place a lot of emphasis on memory during this session. Memory is so important to safe driving. So many times I think memory gets overlooked. Adult children focus, as anyone would focus, on the physical abilities. Well, my mom’s vision is okay, my mom’s hearing is okay. She works out every day. She’s active. She’s this and she’s that, but never do they talk about the memory. And again, memory plays such an important role to save driving. So that’s one of the things that we focus on. And that’s one of the questions we ask the family about when they do call here, is, How is your mom’s memory?
MATT – Being forgetful, you know, as we all know, is one thing. We all have bouts of forgetfulness, and some of us live with it, we were born that way. But when you forget where you put the car keys and you find them in the freezer, or when you pick up the remote control to the television and you try to use it as the garage door opener, things like that are very significant and are certainly a very good indicator that maybe this person shouldn’t be driving a vehicle.
JANA – I’ll bet you’ve mended some fractious family relationships through the course of this.
MATT – Even in advance of that, we’ve kept this driving issue from dividing the family. You know, we get calls here at the office where adult children in their 40s, 50s, 60s are crying on the phone that, My sister and brother and I have been so close all of our lives. Now we don’t speak over mom’s driving. So I like to think that if we get called soon enough, we keep that from getting to that point. We did a self – we call them a self-assessment – again, for a gentleman in Wheeling, West Virginia. His daughter, adult daughter is a nurse in Cincinnati, and as I described, she’s the one that called and said, Look, I’d like to have you come and check into my dad’s driving. Us kids don’t necessarily think he should be driving.
MATT – So we went and did the self-assessment. Everything went fine. He agreed that yes, probably today is a good day for me to step away from driving. And that’s what he did. But she wrote later in a letter, that the self-assessment itself was great. It got dad to realize that it was time to retire from driving and he did that. There were no hard feelings. But, she wrote, the most important part was it helped maintain the integrity of our family unit. It didn’t divide us. It wasn’t given the opportunity to divide us as a family, referring to the driving issues. So if we can get to it in time, we can keep those hard feelings from ever developing.
JANA – I read on your website that according to the Erie Insurance Company, 20% of all accidents happen in parking lots. I’m wondering how often these accidents involve older drivers? And how can we encourage older drivers and people around them to lessen the chances of being involved in parking lot crashes?
MATT – Jana, I’m not sure exactly what you saw, but I just recently wrote an article, if you can believe this, a four-page article on how to pick the proper parking spot in a Walmart parking lot, because there’s a science to it. You know, parking lots – I’m going to deviate from the subject a tiny bit – but parking lots are poorly designed. You take a crowded parking lot like at a Walmart, and I’m not picking on Walmart –
JANA [overlapping] – even for able-bodied parkers, many parking lots are a challenge.
MATT – Absolutely. Look where we put the handicapped parking spot: right in front of the store where there’s the most amount of vehicular traffic, there’s the most amount of pedestrian traffic –
JANA – I never thought about that.
MATT – and everybody’s gotta walk – sure – everybody’s got to walk into the front door. But yet, that’s where we take our higher-risk drivers and ask them to park. And then we ask them to park back out of those parking spots. And that’s where these tragedies happen.
MATT – Well, when I meet with people, I tell them that look, you’re way more likely to become involved in an accident in the parking lot, than you are up on the interstate. These folks have done a good job of policing themselves. They don’t go on the interstate if they don’t feel comfortable there. They don’t go down Main Street during rush hour traffic if they don’t feel comfortable there. But when they go to Walmart, or Kmart, or Super K or the grocery store or the drug store, you know they’re parking in these handicapped spots as they should be. But again, they’re putting themselves in a high-risk category to have an accident pulling out of the parking lot.
JANA – What do you do with the reluctant or defensive older driver? You’ve probably had situations where you’ve gone and sat down and they’ve just said, No way, I’m not doing this.
MATT – It’s a good question. Believe this or not, two thirds of the people we meet will actually retire from driving as a direct result of this session. And remember, that final third may not need to give up driving. Maybe they just need to police their driving a little more. Certain restrictions, you know, no driving at night, no, you know, etc, etc, etc. Put some restrictions on their driving to help keep them safe.
MATT – But then there are that roughly 3% of the people we meet with who (a) are going to cause an accident if they continue to drive, and (b) refuse to even entertain the idea of giving up driving. These are dangerous individuals. And it’s probably not of their own choosing. They typically have been diagnosed with some type of dementia, whether it’s Alzheimer’s disease or, or a different type of dementia, and they’re just not able to make proper decisions any longer. It’s a stage in dementia that they pass through. And sometimes we get those folks that are in that stage where they recognize, I know my driving’s horrible.
MATT – Sadly, I had one person tell me Look, I know I’m going to have an accident. I’m a horrible driver, he said, And I know I might run over a kid at the bus stop, he said, But I’m not going to give up driving. And so those people come with their own basket of challenges.
MATT – What happens is after this three-hour session, the family receives a very detailed report, talking about everything that we did during the session and how we came to the recommendation that we came to. But the family can then use that written documentation to apply pressure to this father that still refuses to give up driving and absolutely should not be driving. They can take it to the individual’s insurance agent, for example. They can provide a copy to the state bureau motor vehicles or Department of Motor Vehicles, whatever your state has, and ask that the person be retested. They can take the report, hand walk the report down to the local police department and say Hey, look, we’ve been put on written notice that my father is going to hurt somebody if he continues to drive. And just – the police department won’t take any action based solely on that, but they sure do appreciate the information that they’ve got an unsafe driver in their community.
MATT – And there are some other things that the family can do as well. But we, again, I want to stress, we try not to let it get to that point. The name of the company is Keeping Us Safe. But the name of this program is Beyond Driving With Dignity. And we try during that three-hour session to allow the individual to be the decision maker and therefore they maintain their dignity, their pride and their independence through, you know, what can be one of life’s most difficult transitions for sure.
JANA – I like Evelyn’s story, because it shows that even though she gave up what was a cherished form of independence, she gained social activity. And keeping older people – anyone really, for that matter – socially engaged, is such a healthy way to age. And I like the idea that she became more social as a result, it sounds like. Am I wrong?
MATT – She sure did it. No, absolutely. You’re 100% right. Henry Ford once said, If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right. And I’ve seen enough times where, the cases like Evelyn, where people have decided that look, I’m not going to lose my independence. And sure enough, they don’t lose their independence. Evelyn being the perfect example of that. But for the person that says, This is the end of my life, I’m going to go home and rot. I’m going to be under house arrest and I’m bitter and I’m angry, then, you know, so will be the outcome. So I think there’s a lot of truth in that self-fulfilling prophecy as it relates to older drivers giving up driving and maintaining their independence. If they think they can, they will. If they don’t think they can, they won’t. And I know that’s oversimplifying it, but I also think there’s a lot of truth to it.
JANA – Can you explain why employees lose work time over this issue?
MATT – Sure. Stressing and worrying about every time the phone rings: is that the police calling about my mom? Has my mom been in an accident? Or maybe they have an arrangement where the employee calls home at 10 o’clock every morning to make sure mom’s got up and has taken her medications. And now she can’t get an answer. And they worry about this whole driving issue. And it worries them literally to death. And these employees become, as you can imagine, very unproductive. And by using this self-assessment program, I’d like to think that we help that employee remain productive and a valuable piece of the workplace. And all the while the driving issue was solved.
JANA – So you work with employers.
MATT – Yes. Yes, with Employee Assistance Programs, yes – that work with employers.
JANA – Okay. I see. What a great idea. Well, I wonder if we can get personal for a moment and talk about your own folks. They’re still living I know. Are you worried about their driving? How is their driving?
MATT – Yes. Well, my mother and my father are both 82. My dad does a great job of driving, thank God, because that will be a difficult conversation if that day ever comes. But my mom, not so much. My mom suffered a stroke several years ago. But, so her, we were fortunate on the driving piece because she realized, Look, I’ve got no business ever driving again. And she recognized that and that was the way it went. So there was not even really a conversation about giving up driving. And a lot of times, those are very common occurrences. But unfortunately, we never hear about those, where the individual themselves realize that look, it’s just time for me to quit driving.
MATT – I’ve heard of older drivers having close calls, or having a minor accident and they realize themselves that look, this could have been much more serious, it’s time for me to step away from driving. And then there are, of course, the individuals that need a little coaxing, which we do through this self-assessment session. But then one more time there are these 3% some of the people that just simply refuse to give up driving.
JANA – Mm-hmm. Well, do you think you’re going to have to have this conversation with your dad at some point? And do you dread that?
MATT – Oh, my goodness. Do I dread it? My father came out of high school went into the United States Army. So he got that education. And then he, when he got out of the army, he became an Ohio State trooper. So all he knows is military. And I can tell you, there’s no negotiating with my father. None whatsoever. And nothing has changed.
JANA – Uh-oh.
MATT – Yeah, for me nothing has changed in 55 years. He’s still of that attitude. And like I said, fortunately, he stays very active. He’s active socially. He’s very active physically, he takes care of these properties, he’s got a barn, he’s got a little orchard – he’s got an out barn.
JANA – Is he one of those 82-year-olds that does bench presses?
MATT – He does push-ups – push-ups and setups every other morning. He does 100 of each. But I can still take him. No actually, I joke about my father not being receptive to that. But I think in real life, the reality of it, is it’s probably the opposite is true – that he will be very receptive. Because you know, he’s always grown up taking care of people and providing for people, and the last thing he would ever want to do is hurt somebody in an automobile accident.
JANA – Yeah. Well, my mom was willing to give up the keys at a certain point. I think she was more afraid of driving with her sister, who’s no longer living, who was a few years older. And my cousin actually reached the point where she couldn’t get an insurance policy for her mother, because her mother had been in accidents. And so she legitimize her taking her keys away from her mother by reporting to her that the cost of an insurance premium would just be exorbitant.
MATT – Skyrocket.
JANA – Yeah, if my aunt kept driving. She was much more resistant. It’s so individual, isn’t it? And it’s such an American thing – to drive.
MATT – It is. It is.
JANA – I think about how I’m going to give it up. I’ve got many driving years ahead of me, I hope.
MATT – Sure. And I do too. I love to drive. You know, I was on Ohio State trooper – that’s all I know how to do.
JANA – Right!
MATT – Is drive up and down the road and look busy. I enjoyed it with gas at $4 a gallon when it got that high. I still took drives every night. You know, I just love to drive. And there are a lot of people like that, that I’ve met. And a lot of people want to be able to drive for the independence and just knowing that they can. Some people like to drive just for them to solve their maintenance issues, you know, to be able to go to the grocery and be able to run errands.
JANA – Sure, yeah.
MATT – But some people just love driving. And you know, I’m one of those. So I’m wondering, How will that work?
JANA – I find it very calming to drive. It’s very therapeutic, but –
MATT – absolutely.
JANA – You know, watching my mother, she’s 88, she hasn’t driven, well, for eight years. I think for me, watching her just basically, age has been so instructive for me in terms of realizing what to be on the lookout for and how to, you know, come to grips with my own issues that I’m going to have to face. So I think it’s really healthy, you know, to be around older folks and have these conversations. I love what you’re doing with your organization.
MATT – Thank you.
JANA – I don’t want to rush you off the phone or anything, but I want to know if there’s anything else you’d like to add that we didn’t talk about before we close?
MATT – Yes. Real quickly, you talked about, you know that you’re learning from your mom’s aging as well. And along those same lines, I want to say that of late there have been a lot of studies done that show that older drivers that participate in some type of physical activity are safer drivers. And they found a direct correlation between the amount of – basically exercise that you do, and your safe driving ability. And we now have found that to be true, not that we question the studies by Yale medical school. But I’ve seen that firsthand, that now that is a question that we ask and something that we talk about during this three hour session with the older driver is, Tell me about your physical exercise routine.
MATT – The person that says, Look, I bowl every Tuesday afternoon, I walk at the mall every morning, and I do 100 push-ups and setups every other day in the morning, that person I can tell you from my own experience is probably a safe driver. I had one gentleman and I’m certainly not throwing him under the bus, he had a ton of medical issues. And his response was, Right now I try to help my wife prepare the dinner salad at night, you know, for dinner. And he is the only person that has ever, when we went out to do the driving exercise, backed straight up into my car. So I now am a firm believer. But you talk about wanting to be proactive and learning from seeing your mother age. That’s one thing to keep in mind for those of us that want to extend our safe driving careers: staying physically active is a big part of that.
JANA – Wow. And Matt, is your organization in every state? Tell us a little bit more about the logistics of how people can access the work of your organization.
MATT – Yes and no, on the every state thing. Physically, we are in about 20 different states. By physically I mean that we have at least a representative in 20 different states that can provide this self-assessment session. Now for the states that we’re not in, we also have a workbook. And I’m not here to sell a workbook, I just want to say what’s available, but it’s a workbook that walks the family through this whole process almost in lieu of having that three- hour self-assessment session. It’s titled, “Beyond Driving With Dignity: The Workbook for Older Drivers and Their Families.” And it is a working workbook. The families and the older driver, in theory, will work through this workbook together sitting at the same table. And what it’s designed to do is remove any opinion, emotion and speculation from the family and reduce everything to facts, so that they can then decide, Okay, is mom a safe driver or not? And this workbook walks them through that entire process. That, of course, is available through all 50 states through the Keeping Us Safe website.
JANA – Mm-hmm. Absent the ability of a family member to get that parent to the table and work through that workbook – and we know that as important as facts are for a lot of people, this is a very emotional discussion. So they won’t even come to the table. That’s when we need to bring in the certified professionals, right? You have a training program, right?
MATT – You’re exactly right. Yes, we do. And of course, we’re always looking for more people. We need to get all 50 states filled. And the training typically takes place by video Skype. Because we’re talking about training someone today in Spokane, Washington, and tomorrow in San Diego, California. So it’s done inexpensively, actually, at no charge through the video Skype platform, Skype video platform, I’m sorry. And the training takes about 12 or 14 hours to go through, but we break it up into manageable blocks. And there’s a brochure and a page on our website dedicated to answering questions and explaining just how that certification program works.
JANA – Well, I’m wondering if this is something that is a job opportunity for folks who are we’re looking for a little side work? I mean, just to be honest, there are people looking for work now.
MATT – Yes, this is that. Now I don’t want that to be the first reason they do it. I want the first reason they do it is because it’s a program that saves lives and helps families
JANA – Right, but it’s a question that’s going to be asked.
MATT – You’re right. The reality of it is, we charge the family $350 for this three-hour session. So it certainly is for somebody that’s just an individual that wants to do it on the side as you described, or somebody that’s a business owner that might work in the area of geriatrics. Non-medical caregivers are a good example of some of the people we have certified in this program. So a business owner may find this appropriate or an employee – we have hospitals that have sent nurses through this program so that they can administer it through their hospital system.
JANA – I think it’s great, any way you can get them to the table. And that objective third party is – can be helpful.
MATT – Right. And a lot of times that’s the only person that the older driver will even considered listening to. You know, and every family is different; what works in your family we would never think of in our family, and vice versa. And times that by the millions of families across the country. So it’s hard to find a cookie cutter solution. When we get a call from an adult child I explain to them both of these options. Look, you’ve got a $25 “out” here, or you’ve got a $350 “out.” But I explain to them, the workbook is for you, if you think you could handle this issue at home, on your own, but you would like some coaching, some advice, some guidance, then the workbook is perfect for you. If you don’t think that’s going to work, then the self-assessment is what you want to consider.
JANA – Matt Gurwell. He’s a 24-year veteran of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and he’s the founder of Keeping Us Safe, an organization that provides real life solutions to older adult drivers and their families. We’ll have a link on The Agewyz website to Matt’s organization, but if you want to explore all that it has to offer right now go to keepingussafe.org. That’s all one word, keepingussafe.org. Matt, thank you so much for being on the show and for all that you do to keep older adult drivers safe and their family members sane. Thanks, Matt.
MATT – Thank you very much, Jana.