Cerna Stories #1: “Mario”: Men and Their Automobiles

At Cerna, every day with our clients, who we consider to be like friends and family, offers learning opportunities to share with others. Cerna caregivers are not just people hired to “watch” an aging person with specific needs related to a disease like Alzheimer’s – they are focused on cognitive stimulation, making a personal connection, engaging in physical activity and ensuring their friend feels as comfortable as possible. A typical day requires patience, empathy and creative problem solving.


This series of blog articles highlights those creative solutions Cerna caregivers have implemented with clients. These solutions begin with the understanding that a client’s world is different than our world where healthy fully functioning people reside. Each day, Cerna caregivers step-out of their healthy world into a different space unique to each client’s reality. It is only there we can try to understand behavior and work to provide clients with as much dignity, tranquility and happiness as possible.

Cerna Stories: “Mario”

A Cerna client with a moderate neurological impairment, who we’ll call Mario, was distressed over the loss of his independence after losing driving privileges. While women feel a sense of loss, in Cerna’s experience it is more profound in men.

Mario is not so impaired that he eventually forgot he was no longer driving; it continued to bother him, causing depression. How could we remedy this, give him back a sense of freedom – and keep Mario safe?

The Solution

Cerna’s Care Coordinator rented out an entire Go Karting facility for 30 minutes. Mario, supervised by two others on the track with him, got in a kart and DROVE! Mario was delighted beyond words. NEVER have you seen a happier face – even at a tentative 4 M.P.H., Mario was filled with pure joy as he slowly drove.

Watching him, you could see he was transported to a different place – perhaps a drive  along the beach in his first car. Mario sang, smiled and laughed while his family cheered him on.

Mario was elated for days after, frequently talking about “his car.” His family plans on doing it again.

A $100 investment for 30 minutes brought Mario back to a happy place. This was achieved by first considering Mario’s way of thinking – then figuring out how to give something valuable back to him in a controlled environment.

*names are changed to protect privacy

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