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DriveWise Helps Elders, Family Evaluate Driving Skills

There comes a time when a loved one’s deteriorating driving skills can raise concerns.

  • Date: 3/1/2005
  • Phone: 617-667-4074

BOSTON - There comes a time when a loved one's deteriorating driving skills can raise concerns. A son or daughter sees an aging parent's capabilities diminish and worries what may happen behind the wheel of a car. A spouse faces an impairment that could increase the potential for an accident. Yet, at the same time, there's a need to respect a person's independence and self-esteem. Though fraught with awkwardness, families facing such situations are finding a solution with DriveWise, a program now offered at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

DriveWise is a comprehensive evaluation of the performance of individuals who may have compromised driving skills due to impairments in motor, cognitive, perceptual and/or sensory abilities.

To do this, BIDMC has assembled teams of clinicians from behavioral neurology, social work and occupational therapy. Together, they work with families to bring objectivity to the issue, conducting a thorough evaluation that includes:

  • A clinical social work assessment
  • In-clinic occupational therapy assessment;
  • On-road driving assessment with an occupational therapist and driving instructor, an element not offered by other driving evaluation programs;
  • Patient/family feedback meetings with the clinical social worker.

After the evaluation, treatment follows. Some drivers benefit from remediation. Others are trained in the use of adaptations for the car or strategies for safer driving.

When untreated medical issues, such as vision problems, compromise driving, referrals are made to hospital specialists. Alternative transportation resources in a community are identified as needed. If cessation of driving is recommended, the emotional impact of this loss is explored and support is provided to driver and family.

"DriveWise delivers the best possible answer, and to all involved, peace-of-mind that is based on the wisest course of action," says Lissa Kapust, LICSW, who directs the program through BIDMC's behavioral neurology department.

For additional information, or to schedule an evaluation, contact Mickey Lentz at 617-667-4074.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.