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AARP plans ‘Family Conversations with Older Adults’ on Tuesday

An AARP “We Need to Talk – Family Conversations With Older Adults” program about driver safety will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, 1120 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.

Class size is limited. Reservations can be made by calling 704-216-7714.

The 90-minute seminar guides families in determining when it’s time for their loved ones to change driving habits or to stop driving. The seminar is free and offers practical tips and advice on three main topics:

• The Meaning of Driving: having to change driving habits or give it up.

• Observing Driving Skills: Watching a loved one’s driving skills objectively and talking about alternatives.

• Planning Conversations: How to have “the talk” while encouraging independence. It’s a difficult conversation to initiate, but with the right tools, family can make a difference in the life of an older driver.

AARP, in conjunction with the Hartford and MIT AgeLab, developed the seminar based on ongoing research on older drivers.

Old age alone is not a reason to quit driving, but the signs of driving problems for older people can be hard to recognize. On average, men tend to outlive their safe driving abilities by six years and women, by 10 years.

A major challenge for families and neighbors is to ensure that people who limit or stop driving have access to mobility options that allow them to remain active in their communities. The seminar’s purpose is to help people have sensitive and successful conversations with family members and friends.

Some family concerns can be addressed by the person taking the AARP Driver Safety Refresher Course. Health professionals, such as driver rehabilitation specialists, can help in other situations, such as strokes, diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s, dementia or other medical conditions.

Older drivers and their close relatives often prefer that conversations about driving safety be handled within the family, unless a doctor must be involved because of a medical condition.

Seminar participants will learn to:

• Acknowledge the meaning of driving and its influence on decisions about driving.

• Create opportunities to talk about driving safety and transportation needs.

• Make objective observations of driving skills.

• Develop a plan for more successful and sensitive conversations about limiting or stopping driving.

• Address transportation needs if driving is curtailed.

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