Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County hosts ‘Driving and Dementia’ workshop

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Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 11:29 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Smith County Alzheimer’s Alliance held an event to help caregivers learn to have productive, respectful conversations about driving with those at risk.

“My mother has been diagnosed with dementia, and she is still driving right now, but we’re noticing flat tires because she’s run over curbs,” says Sharon Bayless, who cares for her elderly mother.

Bayless attended the “Driving and Dementia” workshop to learn how to have a proper conversation with her mother without making her feel as if she’s lost her independence.

“It’s a very difficult and a very emotional experience for everybody involved,” says Ravonne McCray.

Ravonne McCray is with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. She travels across Texas teaching a driving program meant for all mature drivers.

“Maybe going a little over the speed limit, maybe having a scrape on the car — but then there’s some serious ones that maybe you had a crash or you are running red lights or the stop signs,” says McCray.

If you’re concerned about an older driver in your life, McCray recommends riding with your loved one to take note of any signs that may put them or others in danger.

“Making a plan for retirement of driving — this is what all of us need to do because we never know what’s going to happen when we wake up,” says McCray.

Although the course is geared towards mature drivers, McCray recommends that all age groups begin having the conversation early with their loved ones about transportation options.

Heather Singleton is a Traffic Safety Specialist at the Texas Department of Transportation’s Tyler district office.

The department offers a program called Car Fit, which helps older drivers who may be experiencing mobility issues.

The program allows a driver to show up in their car for a traffic safety specialist to do a wellness check and make sure the driver is able to properly operate the vehicle.

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