Families address risk of seniors behind the wheel - KCTV5 News

Families address risk of seniors behind the wheel

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In most cases, the longer a person does something, the better they get. But when it comes to driving, the rules are different. Some families are now addressing the risk of seniors behind the wheel.

It's a tricky road to navigate: taking the keys away without leaving a loved one feeling like a person is taking their independence as well.

Catherine Hart turned 92 this month.

"When you're around young people, you don't feel old," she said.

Though she likes to get out, her kids started getting concerned about how she got out and about.

"She did pass her driver's test and had a driver's license. But we were just noticing, with her slower reflexes and a couple of little fender benders, that it was time to stop," said Pam Miller, Hart's daughter.

Hart agreed and switched to a non-driver's license.

"It's kind of dangerous for seniors. They don't have the ability to do quick thinking," she said.

Soon after, Hart's kids hired Jody Layne. The senior helper visits Hart for three hours every other day.

"We've gone to Cameron; we've gone to Jeff City," said Layne.

A AAA survey released this month shows that most seniors self-monitor and avoid driving on busy highways, in the rain or at night. But sometimes that's not enough. There are publicly funded options like ride-sharing, but the setup at the Hart home offers something that doesn't.

"She's always been very adamant she wants to hold onto her car," said Miller of her mom.

"She just gives me the keys and I drive her around. It's very similar to Driving Miss Daisy," said Layne of how she and Hart spend some of their time together.

When the fit is right between a senior and their helper, it offers even more.

"She's (Hart) like my mother. She's like my mother. She's part of my family and my family's a part of her family," said Layne.

Layne's mom is in California and recently got a care giver herself. The two mothers talk on the phone with one woman saying, "Thank you for sharing your daughter," and the other responding, "Thank you for taking care of my daughter."

AAA created an interactive testing tool to check vision, reflexes and other things that can make driving trickier as people age. Click here for that link.

Click here for KC 4 Aging in Community's website.

Click here for the Mid-America Regional Council's Aging Transportation Program.

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