A month ago, I attended a workshop put on by COSCO. No, this was not a grocery workshop put on by one of the largest food store chains in the world. Rather it was organized by the Council of Senior Citizens Organization (COSCO) of British Columbia and sponsored by its health and wellness Institute. The local area branch is the Kootenay Council of Seniors Association.
I haven't been a senior for long, but I had a look at COSCO's brochure of wellness workshops and thought many of these sessions would be useful.
For example, there were workshops for Falling Prevention, Fraud and Scams, Knowing Your Bladder, Sleep Problems, and Emergency Preparedness. In all, there were 43 workshops listed for seniors, and these workshops come with power-point slides and top-notch presenters.
COSCO is an umbrella organization with no paid staff, and it brings together 85 seniors groups representing 107,000 women and men. COSCO is affiliated with the one million-member National Pension Federation, which lobbies for seniors at the national level. Around British Columbia, COSCO has generated a significant group of volunteers who work on behalf of seniors and deliver workshops upon request.
The COSCO workshop I attended was presented by Nelson's Craig and Judy Gray of Grayt Expectations Ltd. The topic was Mature Driver Assessment Procedures.
This workshop covered various aspects of how aging may affect driving skills and gave detailed information about the assessment procedures in place for seniors whose health is failing or whose age is nearing 80. Doctors have been given the responsibility of identifying seniors who may not be functioning well as drivers, and this workshop outlined the various tests that are being used.
For many seniors, getting a driver medical examination report is a mysterious and frightening prospect. It is doubly nerve-wracking if tests like the Montreal cognitive assessment or the Simard test are presented with very little or no warning for the seniors wanting to renew their drivers' licences.
COSCO is hoping to partner with the superintendent of motor vehicles to develop a workshop to make seniors more comfortable about the entire DriveABLE situation.
At the mature Drivers' workshop I attended, about 20 worried seniors came out to get the straight goods about these tests, and the Grays did a first-rate job of outlining the process. They also indicated it was essential for those seniors in the know to make other seniors aware of what might be ahead for them while getting their drivers' licences renewed.
Items clarified included what happens if a senior fails a particular item such as the on-screen test. That senior will still have the option of taking a road assessment. I agree with the seniors I've talked to that the road test should be the main assessment — not sitting in a doctor's office trying to recall a list of unrelated words.
The Kootenay arm of COSCO wants to help seniors prepare for the driver medical examination, particularly the driving part. As Craig Gray reminded me, most seniors have never had another driver's test since they passed their licence requirements in their teenage years.
What the Kootenay Council of Seniors Association has in mind is to pair a senior who requires testing with a volunteer senior and the two of them going for drives together to brush up on current driving standards.
COSCO is working on getting the seniors licence renewal good for five years instead of the current two years. Maybe we should request that the mature drivers workshop be given in Castlegar again so more seniors can hear what's going on. Just knowing what to expect may help our seniors retain their independence for a longer period of time.
Spots in Time: Gord Turner