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Altamonte Springs Police Department
Thursday May 17th, 2012 :: 10:56 a.m. EDT

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The Altamonte Springs Police Department has an important message for you! How to take away the car keys from a loved one

Have you ever been asked a question that was difficult to answer? For those with kids this probably happens more than once in a day. For example Little Johnny asks you, “Daddy, why is the sky blue?” Sure you could simply tell him, “Well Johnny the sky is blue due to Rayleigh scattering.” However, one of the most fascinating traits of children is their inquisitive minds that never cease to hunger for more information. So you guessed it, Little Johnny’s next question is, “Daddy, what is Rayleigh scattering?” No problem, you simply say, “Little Johnny, Rayleigh scattering occurs when light with long wavelengths, such as red, orange, and yellow light, pass straight through the atmosphere with little to no absorption; however blue light which has a much shorter wavelength is highly absorbed by gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then radiated in different directions and scattered all around the sky. Whichever direction you look, some of this scattered blue light reaches you. Since you see the blue light from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue, any other questions Little Johnny?” “Yes daddy, what is a wavelength?” As the discussion continues you will soon learn that children never run out of questions, and therefore you must resort to a distraction tactic such as, “Little Johnny would you like to get some ice cream?”
As Little Johnny grows up into adulthood the day may come when the roles are reversed and he finds himself answering this difficult question, “How can I tell my dad that it’s time to give up the car keys?” Making the decision to take away the car keys of a parent is one of the most difficult situations an adult child will ever face; but ignoring the dilemma could lead to tragic consequences.

There’s no magic age that determines an appropriate time to take away the car keys. In fact, age is not a consideration at all. Consider Howard, a 96 year old neighbor of mine who lives alone and has been blessed with great health. Howard is not only capable of driving safely but because of his boycott of technology he actually has far less distractions then the average-age driver. For example, Howard is not taking his eyes off the road to answer a cell phone, send a text, change the compact disc, hook up an Ipod, or program a GPS unit. Furthermore, Howard embraces his wrinkles and is not tempted to put on makeup while driving and does not take his eyes off the road to check on his baby boy who recently celebrated his 72nd birthday.

Instead of singling out age as the primary factor of removing ones keys consider the following list of specific factors that may have adverse effects on cognitive abilities like memory, judgment, and understanding.
• Visual decline: These include poor depth perception, narrowed peripheral vision, poor judgment of speed and poor night vision, along with increased sensitivity to bright sunlight, headlights and glare.
• Hearing loss: Of particular concern to seniors’ driving ability is the inability to hear important warning sounds while driving.

• Limited mobility and decreased flexibility: These increase response time, slow pedal selection and steering control, and limit the ability to turn one’s head to look for hazards.
• Chronic conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea, heart disease or diabetes can impair seniors’ driving ability and skills, even suddenly.
• Medications: Older people often take more medications; this, in combination or taken with alcohol, can result in risky, unpredictable and dangerous side effects and drug interactions.
• Drowsiness: This effect on seniors’ driving ability is often due to medication side-effects or sleep difficulties that come with age, resulting in daytime tiredness and an increased tendency to doze off during the day (or while driving).
• Dementia or brain impairment: This makes seniors’ driving more dangerous and more frustrating. It can also cause delayed reactions and confusion on the road.

Once you have determined that taking away the keys is warranted based upon observations noted above and not simply based on age, it’s time to face reality before something tragic happens. Easier said then done. When you take away someone’s car keys you also take away a big part of their independence. Seniors who lose their driving privileges often feel imprisoned and experience a rapid decline in health. The responsibility of transportation falls upon family members who often are not prepared in understanding how large of a commitment they are taking on. To complicate matters, seniors desiring to hold onto their independence may refuse to call upon family when they need a ride to the grocery store or to pick up life-saving medicine.

Fortunately, the Central Florida community has access to a non-profit organization called ITN Orlando which offers dignified transportation to seniors. ITN Orlando has been providing safe transportation for over five years allowing seniors to remain vital to the economic and social health of their communities. ITN Orlando helps seniors stay connected to family, friends and the community while assisting businesses to retain valuable customers. In addition, ITN Orlando provides adult children the peace of mind of offering a safe transportation alternative when faced with the difficult task of taking away a parent’s keys. Perhaps, ITN Orlando board member Win Adams said it best when he coined the phrase, “Mom and dad, haven’t you earned the right to be chauffeured around?”
ITN Orlando provides transportation at half the cost of a taxi service by utilizing the services of trained and certified volunteers. Volunteers help to ensure each trip seems like an outing with a friend or neighbor including door to door service with carrying packages and assisting in loading and unloading devices like portable wheelchairs and walkers. ITN Orlando also utilizes the services of certified paid part time drivers to ensure transportation services are available 24 hours 7 days a week.

In conclusion, taking the keys away from a loved one can be a very traumatic, life changing event that leaves a large gap in the independence of seniors. ITN Orlando’s mission is to bridge this gap through safe and affordable alternative transportation. The continued success of ITN Orlando depends on all of us to spread the word of this wonderful organization to friends, family, and neighbors. ITN Orlando continuously strives to expand their transportation services to other areas of Central Florida and therefore encourages anyone who may be interested in volunteering to contact their main headquarters in Orlando at 407-228-7761. In addition, several local business owners have discovered ITN Orlando makes the perfect partner to not only “drive” up sales but offer a way to give back to the community through financial support of local non-profit organization.
For more information please visit ITNOrlando.org or call 407-228-7761.

Address/Location
Altamonte Springs Police Department
175 Newburyport Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 407-339-2441

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