A support group for seniors who have stopped driving will start back up at the St. Albert 50+ Club on Wednesday.
The sessions are open to people who have lost their driving privileges, as well as their caregivers.
There was a need for a support group for people to learn how to deal with such a significant lifestyle change, said Lori Jack, seniors’ nurse with the St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network.
“It’s devastating for patients to lose their driver’s licence because there is a loss of independence and mobility,” she said.
The free 14-week driving cessation support group began in 2012. Participants can now join without being referred by their doctor.
The program is a collaboration between the primary care network and the Medically At-Risk Driver Centre at the University of Alberta.
Its aim is to teach individuals and their caregivers ways to cope and adjust, as well as learn about other ways of staying mobile.
Jack noted loss is a large part of aging. When people can no longer drive because of chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia they experience anger, depression and lose self-esteem and self worth.
Driving cessation often “takes over their life.”
Loss of driving privileges also has a negative effect on caregivers – spouses and family members – as it becomes a constant source of conflict and stress for them, she said.
The group is open to people between the ages of 50 and 80 years who have had to stop driving because of chronic disease.
Patients will be in a separate group from caregivers but the two groups will meet simultaneously for one hour once per week at the 50+ Club.
Jack will lead the patient group while mental health co-ordinator Tami Brodeur will lead the caregiver support group.
When the support sessions were first being developed there was no other program like it in the city.
Preliminary data from the first two 14-week sessions of the driving cessation support group have found that 91 per cent of participants said the “group made a difference in their lives.”
Driving Cessation Support Group
When: Wednesday, March 5
Where: St. Albert 50+ Club, 7 TachÄ‚Â© Street
Who: People who have had to stop driving because of chronic disease and their caregivers
To register call Lori Jack at 780-418-6724