Community Invited to Town Hall Discussion of Dementia and Driving

Next Wednesday, a group of local panelists will discuss dementia and driving during a town hall meeting at Humboldt General Hospital.

The meeting, which is sponsored by Winnemucca Alzheimer’s Awareness, will begin at 6:45 p.m. in the hospital’s Sarah Winnemucca Conference Room; local residents are invited to attend to ask questions and offer ideas and suggestions.

The feedback will also help the group as they address their second subject for the evening: making Winnemucca an “Age Friendly Community.”

“It is a huge concern,” said Winnemucca Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator Gini Cunningham, “when someone who is not in full cognitive control of his or her faculties is behind the wheel.”

Cunningham, who will also act as the evening’s facilitator, said the town hall panel will include a caregiver, city leaders, and representatives from law enforcement, Humboldt General Hospital, Humboldt Volunteer Hospice, the Humboldt County Senior Citizens Center, and the AARP.

“This is your chance to learn more about driving and dementia as panelists discuss responsibilities and liabilities along with ways that each person and/or department is handling this worrisome problem,” she said.

“There will be time for the public to ask questions and offer ideas and suggestions. This input also will be utilized to let our legislators know of our concerns.”

The event is part of the Nevada TASK Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias’ campaign to gain knowledge from across the state on driving and dementia.

Cunningham said that although driving allows older residents to maintain their independence to run errands, visit friends, or travel, it can also be very dangerous for the driver, car occupants, and the public.

“It is tragic to take a license away, even though it is done for all of the right reasons,” said Cunningham, “but it is worse to permit an unsafe driver on the road.”

Cunningham said transportation for those without a license will be a key town hall topic, along with a discussion of whose responsibility it is to revoke a license.

Wednesday, following discussion of driving and dementia, the town hall panelists will also discuss an Age-Friendly Community designation for Winnemucca.

The designation, which requires application through the World Health Organization, would assure that Winnemucca has pleasant outdoor spaces, adequate transportation, affordable housing, social events with senior inclusion, civic participation opportunities, health services, and communication systems like radio, newspaper, and television.

“Certainly, in some of these areas we excel, and in others we still need some discussion and hard work,” said Cunningham, “but all aspects are achievable.”

The “Driving, Dementia and Age-Friendly Winnemucca” town hall meeting will take place from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 16, in the Sarah Winnemucca Conference Room at Humboldt General Hospital. All local residents are invited to attend and share their feedback.

For more information, please contact Winnemucca Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator Gini Cunningham via email at gini.cunningham@sbcglobal.net.

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