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#418 Keeping Us Safe: How this State Trooper Is Helping Families Dealing With the "Driving" Conversation.

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2020 6:30 am

#418 Keeping Us Safe: How this State Trooper Is Helping Families Dealing With the "Driving" Conversation.

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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June 15, 2020 6:30 am

Ask any caregiver of aging loved ones about one of the toughest issues, and "getting them to stop driving" hovers at the top of the list. 

Matt Gurwell spent decades as an Ohio State Trooper and made the "...long walk to the patrol car" following too many heartbreaking notifications to family members.  Once he retired, he determined to do something different and help provide a different path for families struggling with aging loved ones with impairments ...who hang on to the car keys too long. is Matt's company, and listen to his story and learn more about his company ...and how they can help YOU and your loved ones tackle the "driving" issue. 

As a caregiver, do you respect the trauma that YOU'VE endured?  In this episode, we delve into this often overlooked issue that caregivers face. 


Peter Rosenberger hosts the nationally syndicated program, HOPE FOR THE CAREGIVER.


Hope for the Caregiver's podcast contains 400+ episodes in our library. We want to make it free to any who needs to, please consider being a patron today. For as little as $1 per month, you can help us continue to reach family caregivers!  Click here for more!

Hope for the Caregiver is the family caregiver outreach of Standing With Hope


Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger

Welcome to Hope for the Caregiver. I am so glad that you are here.

I am Peter Rosenberger. This is the nation's number one program for you as a family caregiver. How are you doing?

How are you holding up? You know, there are over 65 million caregivers right now that are struggling. They're caught between all kinds of different things, whether they're raising their children and taking care of aging parents, they got a special needs child, they got a loved one who's had some type of traumatic event. They've got somebody in their home who is dealing with autism, they're dealing with addiction, name it. Whatever's going on with the family caregiver, you know, the scenarios are endless, but the strength and the reserves of these caregivers is not endless.

And they are struggling. This is why we do the show. We do several shows a week. On Saturday, we do a live radio broadcast that goes out to nearly 200 stations. And then on Sundays, we do the live podcast that is out on social media and so forth. And then we'll put it out on through our podcast page that you can find at And we'd love for you to follow. It's a free podcast, so please take advantage of it. Share it with as many people as you want.

We put out all kinds of information that can help strengthen you as a family caregiver. And speaking of putting out all kinds of information, he is the fount of knowledge. He's with me from the beginning. He's been there. A steady hand on the till.

Is that the way it's supposed to be? John Butler, everyone. Hey, John.

Well, it's better than having your hand in the till, so, you know. That's pretty funny, John. Hey, that's what I'm here for.

Well, thank you very much. Are you doing all right? I am doing just fine. It's been a strange day. The power went out earlier, and while the power was out, the Roomba was already running and cleaning up messes around my house. So it was just this little guy, you know, running around the house oblivious to the problems all around him.

And if that's not a metaphor, I don't know. Well, John is in Nashville. Ed is engineering the show from Dallas. I'm in Montana, and we also have a very special guest on the show. He was with us when we first started the show, and I've never forgotten. It was such a great show back when we were doing it from Nashville on just one station, and his company has just exploded.

I'd like to take credit for some of it, but I won't because I can't. But he is an amazing guy, and I want to let you hear his story from him because I think it is so relevant today, and I wanted to bring him on here to talk to you about this pressing issue of people on the road that are driving and families that are struggling with, okay, have we reached that point where we have to make a decision? And this is Matt Gurwell.

Matt is in Ohio. Matt, welcome again to the show. Thank you for taking time to call in today. Thank you, Peter. Thank you for having me.

All right, look, I don't want to take your thunder. I just want you to tell us the back story of who you are, how you got to this thing, and then let's talk about what's going on with your organization and with the need and then how families are able to help transition this. So tell us a little bit about how you got into this. Well, Peter, I spent my professional career as an Ohio State trooper, which I must say I loved nearly every minute of. Of course, it was a different day back then. Law enforcement was a little bit different and perceived a little bit differently than what it is today.

But anyhow, I enjoyed every minute of my career. But so much of what we did as Ohio State troopers, and I think true across the country, is reactive. In other words, you see someone run a stop sign and then you take action.

So it's, you know, there's nothing minimal amount of proactivity involved. You see somebody rob a bank. I like to say you stop and ask them not to do that again for the next 18 to 24 years, but it's all reactive. So when I retired, I knew that there was a problem.

Again, this wasn't rocket science. I knew there was a problem with older drivers, not only here in Ohio, but across the country that shouldn't be driving it. And I'm not talking about all older drivers in general. Many of them are are excellent drivers. And I had the opportunity to meet with those good older drivers every day. But some of them, I think we'd all agree maybe shouldn't be driving any longer. And there's either nobody family-wise in place that can have that difficult discussion with mom or dad or grandpa or grandma, or they tried and to no avail. They're not getting anywhere with their loved ones. So when I retired, Peter, I had done dozens of death notifications from tragic automobile crashes where myself and maybe another trooper, maybe not, are banging on someone's door. Two o'clock in the afternoon or two o'clock in the morning and explaining to whoever answers the door basically that your loved one was just killed in a car accident and won't be home today.

And always I call it the long journey back to my patrol car because it is a long it may not be long steps wise, but it's a long walk back to your patrol vehicle. And I always thought that someday I'd like to be in a position where I can do something that's more proactive to keep these crashes from occurring in the first place. So when I retired, I took advantage of that and started keeping us safe. And we're now, like you mentioned a moment ago, have grown into a national organization that provides families with a program where we come in and serve as the intermediary in some ways and have this difficult conversation with mom or dad about possibly retiring from driving. And that's for the older drivers that, again, that should retire from driving. It's not for all older drivers. Many of the older drivers we meet with are great to continue driving either as is or maybe we make some recommendations to curb their driving a little bit.

But they're still fine as drivers and we recognize that and aren't afraid to tell them that either. Let me go back a little bit to something you said when you made that long walk back. I mean, did you have to go to these visits with another trooper or did you have a chaplain or how did that work? It just depended, Peter. You know, they're certainly all different, as you can imagine. I could tell stories, unfortunately, for hours about how different family members have reacted. You know, from the worst extreme, you know, I've had people pounding on me, physically attacking me that, no, this can't be true and, you know, trying to beat me out their front door, basically. And I had one gentleman, we don't need to get into the details, but he was delighted to learn that his wife, who he's getting divorced from, was just killed in a car crash.

So and everywhere in between. But, you know, a lot of times it would be just myself or just another trooper somewhere across the country going and delivering this news. Or if we had time to prepare for it, we might take a neighbor with us, maybe a chaplain or somebody from a religious background that knew something of a family.

But those connections are hard to make in such a short period of time. So as often as not, it was just a single trooper going to someone's house and delivering that news. My dad, when he was a Navy chaplain, and that's the reason I'm asking this, is Dad was a Navy chaplain in Reserves. He was a pastor for, you know, he still is ordained minister, he's 60 years, been doing this, but during the late 60s, early 70s, he was the guy that, you know, he was a Reserve chaplain. And he would have to go notify family members of their loved ones, their son, or usually their son's death in Vietnam.

And this was in the metro Atlanta area. And so it was, you know, and I've talked with him a little bit about that because it was such a, you know, it was a difficult assignment. And so as you say in these, Matt, I can just picture how painful that must have been. And that's the kind of thing that inspires the extraordinary work that you've done with keeping us safe.

It's because it didn't just come out of a, hey, this is a nifty idea. You know, this came out of a lot of pain that you probably had. And I imagine that you would get back to your patrol car and you would grip that steering wheel a little harder. And you probably, I mean, those are painful things. And I just marvel at what you've done with that pain, how you channeled that into something that has saved who knows how many lives you've saved. Well, thank you for that. And, you know, having the conversation with an older adult, here's what I found. I've done well over 400 of these sessions. And here's what I found. Typically, the person sitting across the table from you going through this session with you is in their 70s, 80s, 90s, sometimes even older.

But here's what you're getting. The absolute best people in this world. They're no different, absolutely no different than any of us on this call today or any of your audience members. They have been pillars in their community.

They're somebody that's always been respected and looked up to. And it's very, very hard to tell them, to be the person to tell them that I think you should retire from driving. But I keep reminding myself that the alternative conversation is to explain to somebody that your father was just killed in a tragic automobile crash.

So as unfun or unpleasant as that conversation is to tell somebody they should give up driving, it's still by far the lesser of the two evils. Yeah, as one friend said, I'd rather weep with them than over them. But do you feel like that as a state trooper, and also as an objective person, you're not a family member telling this.

You're somebody whose eyes have seen a lot of tragedy. Do you feel like they give you a better than average fair shake at listening to you? No, I don't, because it's rare, believe this or not, that I share with them my background. I just tell them I'm from this company and this is what we do.

We're an independent third party that comes in and renders an honest opinion about your driving abilities and we leave. So more often than not, I'll bet you 90 plus percent of the time, I never bring up the fact that I was a state trooper. So I don't want that to, I don't want them to, sometimes with dementia and Alzheimer's, then that kind of gets twisted and rearranged. And now they think that there's a state trooper sitting across from the table from them. And that's not the case.

And I don't want to, yeah, I don't want to do that. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I didn't even think about that.

Well, that makes a lot of sense. What I've got going for me, Peter, is I have a lot of gray hair and I think they, I think they respect the years and the experience. I'm sharing that with you, Matt.

Mine turned arctic blonde a long time ago. That's my ace in the hole when I work with these folks. Well, I just want to let people know, those who just now joined, we're talking to Matt Gerwell and his organization is keeping us safe, keeping us safe dot com. And it's a unique approach to helping families with this very, very painful subject of is it time to relinquish the steering wheel and accept the passenger seat? And that's a hard decision.

A lot of families have really struggled with that. And and Matt has come up with what I think is is a not only a brilliant way, but a very, very heart moving way of introducing the conversation and delve into that a little bit. Matt, what is the open direction that you take? It's not heavy handed. It's it's different. It's a much different way of looking at it.

It is not heavy handed at all. Let me say first or I'll forget. The website address is keeping us safe dot org. It's not. Oh, I'm sorry. It's all right.

It's dot org. But it's it's John's fault. Blame John for that. Absolutely. Well, I was going to say something to him.

Don't make me call the law. All right. John can be replaced.

No. Well, sadly, actually, he can't. Actually, I can't. But John can't.

My wife has actually said that. You cannot ever let John go. We could do the show without you, Peter.

But John has to stay. So that just came from our thing would fall apart. Yeah. But anyhow, we actually call this a self-assessment program. So and it falls in perfect alignment with how you described it.

We arrive at the older driver's house. That's one of the nice things about this program. We do it at their kitchen table. I like to say the one place in the world they're most comfortable and we actually set them up for success. But, you know, we want them to do well during this session and we give them every possible benefit of the doubt along the way. But we empower them, Peter, to be the decision makers in this process. And I tell them that look, no matter what I think or do, you're still the decision maker. It's your driver's license. It's your keys. Well, and then we go from there.

We've got to go to a quick break right now. We're talking to Matt Gerwell, And I want him to finish talking about how they do this because it helps them own it. This is Hope for the Caregiver. This is Peter Rosenberg.

We'll be right back. Hey, this is Larry the Cable Guy. You are listening to Hope for the Caregiver with Peter Rosenberg.

And if you're not listening to it, you're a communist, Peter. Have you ever struggled to trust God when lousy things happen to you? I'm Gracie Rosenberger. And in 1983, I experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated. I questioned why God allowed something so brutal to happen to me.

But over time, my questions changed and I discovered courage to trust God. That understanding, along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs, led me to establish Standing with Hope. For more than a dozen years, we've been working with the government of Ghana and West Africa, equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people. On a regular basis, we purchase and ship equipment and supplies.

And with the help of inmates in a Tennessee prison, we also recycle parts from donated limbs. All of this is to point others to Christ, the source of my hope and strength. Please visit to learn more and participate in lifting others up. That's

I'm Gracie, and I am standing with hope. As a caregiver, think about all the legal documents you need. Power of attorney, a will, living wills, and so many more. Then think about such things as disputes about medical bills. What if, instead of shelling out hefty fees for a few days of legal help, you paid a monthly membership and got a law firm for life?

Well, we're taking legal representation and making some revisions. In the form of accessible, affordable, full-service coverage. Finally, you can live life knowing you have a lawyer in your back pocket who, at the same time, isn't emptying it. It's called Legal Shield, and it's practical, affordable, and a must for the family caregiver. Visit That's

Isn't it about time someone started advocating for you? Visit

An independent associate. He'll give you hope for tomorrow, joy for your sorrow, strength for everything you go through. Remember, he knows, he knows the plans he has for you.

Oh, yes he does. He knows the plans he has for you. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver. I am Peter Rosenberger and this is the nation's number one program for you as a family caregiver. 877-655-6755 if you want to be a part of the show. That is Gracie singing from her new record, Resilient. And by the way, while I'm speaking of Gracie, we could use some help with something and I'm putting out a plea for this. You know, she started standing with hope.

You've heard her story. This is a prosthetic limb outreach to her fellow amputees that we've been working in the West African country of Ghana for many, many years. Fifteen years now and we're hoping to get back over there.

But with the virus and everything, international travel, particularly with Gracie, is not necessarily an advisable thing to do. And but we're still sending supplies and part of those supplies include recycled prosthetic limbs. We can take them and they come from all over the country to a prison in Tennessee, not far from where the Count of Monty Disco is himself. Not that he lives close to a prison, but it's not terribly far. He's not in a distressed area where there's a prison, I promise you.

I'm not I'm not even in the same county. But it's still not far. Correct. Yes. But it's they go it's run by CoreCivic and it's one of their faith based programs they do in their prisons that they run all over the country. And inmates volunteer to disassemble those devices where we can recycle the foot, the knee, the pylon, the screws, the adapters, the connectors. And this is something we worked out with CoreCivic many years ago for the inmates to do. And it's an extraordinary program, only one like it in the world where inmates are doing this. But we could use your help to get those prosthesis, let somebody know that there's a place where we'll take used prosthetic limbs, whether the loved one has passed away, the kid has outgrown them, whatever.

Gracie's used tons of prosthesis over the years and she's given her own limbs to this thing. So we would really, really welcome your help and slash recycle if you want to go directly to that page or just go to So we're back talking with Matt Gerwell of keeping us safe dot org. And Matt, as a former state trooper, what do you think of that program with inmates in that extraordinary? Oh, that's that's unbelievable.

That's you know, I don't even know what to say about it. That's outstanding work by everybody involved. They love it. And like you said, they volunteer to do it.

Yeah, they give them something interesting to do. Well, your your organization, I'm sorry to cut you off and went to the break. But but the way you approach this is you help the driver instead of say the driver, you can't do this. You help the driver come to that decision themselves and say, here's here's where we are.

Here's the assessment. And then they own it. Talk a little bit more about that.

They do own it. We again, we stress to them, Peter, one of the keys is that you're still the decision maker now for a lot of people. I have families that will call here to schedule a session and they say, you know, Matt, that sounds great, but it's not going to work with my dad. You're not going to get my dad to voluntarily give up driving.

But here's what I found after doing 400 plus of these sessions. This actually works best with the most cantankerous of older drivers because they see this as an opportunity to escape from this driving issue and still maintain their pride and their dignity. And the very name of our program is Beyond Driving with Dignity because we place such a huge emphasis on a position in this so that they can maintain their dignity. And this can be their decision as opposed to me telling them or the courts telling them or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the police or the family or the doctor telling them. They know they're in trouble with the driving and they know they need to get out of it.

But when this opportunity comes along to actually be the decision maker, interestingly, they take advantage of it. We ask them all sorts of questions, Peter, like you would expect. You know, how many accidents have you had?

What kind of medications do you take? How many falls have you had in the past year, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? Probably two hours worth of what we call a learning conversation. But also, along with that, we ask them questions like, what was your first car and what did you like or not like about it? Every time you ask an 85-year-old person what their first car was and what did they like or not like about it, they get this giant grin on their face. And we've got a lot of questions like that embedded into this learning conversation that help take our level of conversation to a deeper level of trust with the person.

So we ask them about their favorite vacation as a child. And same thing, they can't wait to tell you about that. You know, it makes them feel good.

And I mentioned earlier that this whole session is set up to err in their favor in every way. We want them to succeed. And by the time you start asking questions like that, you're giving them, I don't want to say you're giving them breaks on things, but you're helping them. You're coaching them along the way on how to answer certain questions and how to perform on certain exercises that we do. They really, by the end of the session, they know that they've gotten a fair shake.

And again, when the – go ahead, Peter. No, that's just great. I mean, that's such a beautiful way of doing this. And I would imagine that it's got to be deeply rewarding to you that you're building bridges and not, you know, laying down heavy directives.

And that's got to be deeply rewarding to you personally. It is. We've got a letter here from a gal that is a nurse in Cincinnati, Ohio. And her father lived in Wheeling, West Virginia. And we went and one of our folks, one of our representatives went and did a self-assessment with this gentleman at her request. And everything went fine, just as scripted, so to speak. And he decided on his own that, yes, indeed, maybe I should step away from driving. But in her letter, she wrote that, that the self-assessment program did exactly what we could have hoped for.

You know, it couldn't have turned out any better. Dad made the decision on his own to give up driving. And he's not bitter. He's not mad at us kids. But what she wrote was, it allowed us children to be children and not to be the bad guy in this conversation. And her exact sentence was similar to, it helped preserve the integrity of our family unit. You know, the driving issue was not allowed to divide the family. So that's what, to me, is priceless, that, you know, we were able to come in and perform this service.

And it actually accomplished two things. It held the family together. There are no ill feelings about the driving issue.

And Dad no longer drives. So he's not going to go out and get hurt or just as bad hurt someone else. Beautiful.

I mean, because that is such a beautiful thing. If you are struggling with this with your family and you don't know exactly how to best handle this, Matt does.

Matt Gerwell. This is a man who truly gets this.

And they've come up with a beautiful way to help, like you said, keep families intact so that families are not being fractured over this issue. Matt, thank you so much for being a part of this show today. And you've got to come back. OK, we're going to have you on pretty regularly. All right. Thank you, Peter. And thank you, Gracie, too, for all the great work she's done.

I'll do it. Butler and thank Butler, too. You've got to thank Butler. It's in the contract. Thank you, Butler. Thanks.

Peter Rosenberger. Have you ever helped somebody walk for the first time? I've had that privilege many times through our organization, Standing with Hope, when my wife Gracie gave up both of her legs following this horrible wreck that she had as a teenager. And she tried to save them for years.

And it just wouldn't work out. And finally, she relinquished them and thought, wow, this is it. I mean, I don't have any legs anymore.

What can God do with that? And then she had this vision for using prosthetic limbs as a means of sharing the gospel, to put legs on her fellow amputees. And that's what we've been doing now since 2005 with Standing with Hope.

We work in the West African country of Ghana. And you can be a part of that through supplies, through supporting team members, through supporting the work that we're doing over there. You could designate a limb. There's all kinds of ways that you could be a part of giving the gift that keeps on walking at Would you take a moment and go out to and see how you can give.

They go walking and leaping and praising God. You could be a part of that at As a caregiver, think about all the legal documents you need. Power of attorney, a will, living wills, and so many more. Then think about such things as disputes about medical bills. What if, instead of shelling out hefty fees for a few days of legal help, you paid a monthly membership and got a law firm for life? Well, we're taking legal representation and making some revisions in the form of accessible, affordable, full-service coverage.

Finally, you can live life knowing you have a lawyer in your back pocket who, at the same time, isn't emptying it. It's called Legal Shield, and it's practical, affordable, and a must for the family caregiver. Visit That's Isn't it about time someone started advocating for you?, an independent associate.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-24 00:54:40 / 2024-01-24 01:05:37 / 11

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