Driver’s license renewal can be difficult for seniors

For many seniors, getting a driver's medical examination is a mysterious and frightening prospect

Clearwater resident Murray Stockton recently lost his driver's license and now uses a scooter to get around. There should be more flexibility in allowing seniors to continue to drive in rural areas

Clearwater resident Murray Stockton recently lost his driver's license and now uses a scooter to get around. There should be more flexibility in allowing seniors to continue to drive in rural areas

Gord Turner – Castlegar News

Recently 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.

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 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 function well as drivers, and the workshop outlined the various tests that are being used.

For many seniors, getting a driver’s medical examination 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.

COSCO hopes to partner with the superintendent of motor vehicles to develop a workshop to make seniors more comfortable about the entire process.

About 20 worried seniors attended the workshop to get the straight goods on the tests. The presenters indicated it is essential for those seniors in the know to make other seniors aware of what might be ahead for them.

Items clarified included what happens if a senior fails a particular item such as the on-screen test. That senior would 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 a mature drivers workshop be given here so more seniors can hear what’s going on. Just knowing what to expect may help our seniors retain their independence for longer periods of time.