County agency hosts ‘car keys’ discussion

One of the most difficult challenges families face is the time when an older adult should no longer get behind the wheel of a car. The automobile is often seen as the last symbol of a person’s independence and removing that can be devastating.
“Giving Up the Keys,” a seminar hosted by Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources, is a conversation about ways that families can deal with the situation when it’s time for a family member to no longer drive and make it as painless as possible for all concerned. The event, free and open to the public, will be held four times in July:
• July 16, 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. at the County-City Building in the seventh-floor conference, and 7 to 8 p.m. at the Soundview Building (3602 Pacific Ave.) in conference room 1.
• July 21, 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. at the Pierce County Annex main meeting room (2401 S. 35th St.) and 7 to 8 p.m. at the Sumner branch of Pierce County Library in the meeting room (1116 Fryer Ave. in Sumner).
The conversation will explore issues commonly faced when Alzheimer’s and other dementias make driving dangerous – signs and symptoms of a problem, laws of the road, preparing for a conversation, the role of health care professionals and additional concerns.
“There is no more heart-wrenching issue,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Aging and Disability Resources. “Taking away the keys is a difficult decision and one that can tear families apart. So dealing with it with firmness and compassion is paramount.”
The conversation will be led by Lisa Troyer, a family caregiver case manager for the county. Troyer has worked with numerous families dealing with this issue. Additional resources will be presented by community partners.