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Granny Driving

When the cops arrested my 89-year-old grandmother, I thought they were joking

On a bright June day, the police in Jasper, Indiana arrested my 89-year-old grandmother.

Her criminal activity had been increasing gradually over several years until one day it all came crashing down around her.

Her crime was driving her car when she could no longer safely see, hear, or react.

She caused an accident. In her confusion, she left the scene and drove to the dress shop on the town square that bore her name.

Thankfully, there were no injuries, but the police issued a citation and my grandmother never regained her driving privileges.

When an aging person loses their ability to drive, it often has complex social and psychological effects.

People often associate the loss of a license with a loss of usefulness and new feelings of dependency.

One of the services we provide to patients at Oak Street Health is complimentary door-to-door ride service. Convenient transportation is expensive to offer, but we do it because we view transportation as one tool that improves health outcomes by strengthening the connection between a patients and doctor.

When I discuss Oak Street Health with a group of seniors, I have to be careful talking about transportation. Many are sensitive about losing their independence.

In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie wrote, “Allow the other person to save face.” This advice is helpful in delicate situations.

When I talk about transportation, I’ll joke that some patients have abnormally high blood pressure readings because they had to drive through Chicago traffic, hunt for a parking spot, and pay the city’s outrageous parking fees. By chauffeuring patients, we keep their blood pressure in check without pills.

Think about the services or conveniences you provide, and ask yourself if there’s a way to present it in a way that allows your customer to maintain their dignity.

Also, if you’re ever in the Chicago area and want to see how we are transforming the delivery of primary health care to seniors, I’d be happy to take you behind the scenes.

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