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Episode 9: The Keys to Driving with Parkinson’s

Driving is a complex task involving many physical skills and mental processes. Age, along with a chronic or progressive illness like Parkinson’s, affects these critical driving skills, making a driver less safe on the road. But giving up the keys is an emotionally charged issue. Lissa Kapust created DriveWise, a program that involves a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who do objective assessments of the many skills and mental abilities needed for safe driving.

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About this episode

Giving up the keys can be both an emotional and practical loss – of independence, mobility, and even your sense of youth. It is a marker of aging, and in the case of Parkinson’s, an indicator of disease progression. Instead of thinking about “giving up the keys,” it can be helpful to frame the situation as “driving retirement.” Life will change, but you can plan for it and look forward to new ways to spend your time.

Lissa Kapust, LICSW

Lissa has been an educator, program developer, researcher, writer, and clinician in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, for over 30 years, and over the past several years, she has focused her activities in the field of Parkinson’s. With funding from the Parkinson’s Foundation, she developed an educational video on driving safety for Parkinson's patients. She is founder and clinical coordinator of “DriveWise,” a nationally-acclaimed, hospital-based assessment of driving safety for those with underlying medical problems. In 2010, she became program coordinator for “Wellness Works,” which offers a broad range of exercise and therapeutic programs to patients and family members. She takes leadership within the interdisciplinary team that provides integrated services for people with PD, including the assessment of patients for deep brain stimulation. Lissa has a keen interest in ethics and how principles of ethics intersect with clinical care of patients. She regularly attends monthly Ethics Rounds at BIDMC and has presented cases on several occasions.

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