An expo focusing on older drivers Wednesday in Overland Park will show how they can continue to drive safely and provide options for after they decide to quit driving.
The Get Up and Go Older Adult Driving Expo runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Jewish Community Campus, 5801 W. 115th St.
“You have a retirement plan for when you want to stop working,” said Dawn Staton, director of older adult initiatives for the Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City. “When you want to stop driving, it’s good for you to have a plan so that you’re not isolated in your home. Having the information is powerful.”
This is the second year for the free expo. Registration is not required. Twenty-four vendors, including local transportation providers, will provide advice and tips on driving safety and self-awareness.
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Some of the companies will provide adaptive equipment for cars to allow older adults to drive more safely and comfortably. That equipment includes such items as elongated mirrors, knobs on the steering wheel and pillows to help people sit higher.
The expo is organized by the Jewish Family Services, Johnson County Human Services, the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City, Shawnee Mission Health and Americans for Older Driver Safety. Though focused on older drivers, the expo is relevant to others, including caregivers and family members.
About 24.4 million licensed drivers 70 and older live in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Those numbers will grow as baby boomers age.
“In a very car-focused environment as we have in Kansas City, if you are going to give up your car, you think you’re not going to get around anymore,” Staton said.
“Your life as you know it has ended because you don’t have the freedom to come and do what you want to do. But there are so many different ways of getting around in Kansas City that people don’t know about.”
Annette Maggard Lewer from the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City and Kristin Nichols with the Shawnee Mission Health Driving Program will speak about “The Road to Independence” at 9:45 a.m.
The expo’s goal is to help alleviate fears about a lack of independence people might have once they stop driving. It’s also aimed at helping families take up the emotional issue of when it’s time for an older relative to stop driving.
“It’s a hard conversation to have with your loved one because, again, it’s having to make a realization that it is something you can’t do,” Staton said. “For the person who’s driving, that’s their independence. No one wants to take that way.”
Expos like the one Wednesday can make the conversation easier, Staton said.