Our guest speaker on January 3, 2018, was Dez Miklos, a former member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton AM.  Dez was born in Hungary and escaped that country’s revolution into Austria in 1956 as a political refugee.  He travelled through England, Scotland and Ireland to land in Toronto Easter Sunday 1956.  As an immigrant he has lived in Cornwall, Brockville, and Hamilton.  He is a graduate of Westdale and Ryerson Polytechnical institute (now university).  He first managed hotels in Ontario, and conducted business as a member of the Rotary clubs of Hamilton, Kirkland Lake, and Hamilton AM.

He spoke to us on the topic of senior driver’s care, which because of family circumstances became an item of convenience for him.  He decided that he needed to improve on the teaching field of safe driving and started his own company.  He has written articles on safe driving, sold beginners driving curricula in both English and French, and hosted the radio show ‘Say Dez!’ at McMaster University’s CFMU radio station.  In addition to having taught A-F, B, C, D, E and F licensing programmes, he also trains truck drivers.  Dez is now semi-retired and focuses his attention on seniors and their associated driving problems, which was the topic of his talk January 3. 

He describes the situation around seniors driving and training as ‘not a pretty picture’ as there are several issues he has dealt with surrounding the mental and physical aspects of aging.  The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) is recommending that everyone, including seniors, now be tested for their abilities every five years.  Dez mentioned to our club that the driver fatality rate increases significantly for those over sixty years, and most especially for those over the age of eighty five.  He also mentioned that twenty percent of seniors indicate that they plan to drive into their nineties as driving for the elderly is seen as a big step towards their independence.

Dez mentioned that all seniors must take a group education session which is a ten minute two-part test in which the senior draws a clock and labels the hands at ten past eleven.  This is a test for dementia.  The second test is one in which the test taker strikes out all the H’s from a multiple row presentation of mostly random letters.  If the senior fails either test, then the license is downgraded to a G1, which means that the senior must drive with a fully licensed driver in the car at all times.  The alternative to this condition is that the senior take public transit.

Dez mentioned that club members can administer a simple yet specific mini cognitive test for Alzheimer disease and Dementia to senior family members or seniors in the community.  If the senior to whom the test is applied fails this test, then the senior may see a family physician for further remedy.  The club member first names three objects and asks the senior to repeat what has been said.  The senior is then asked to do the clock test mentioned above and at the end of the test is asked to repeat the names of the three objects first asked by the club member.   If the senior fails any part of this test, he/she is advised to visit their family physician.  Dez also mentioned that club and family members should be on the lookout of Depression in elderly family members and seniors in the community.