Think back to when you got your driver’s license. You were probably 16 years old and excited to finally get behind the wheel without your mom or dad in the front passenger seat. Driving gave you a sense of independence and freedom. When that freedom is taken away as a result of age, it can be difficult to let go. While senior drivers are safe for the most part, it’s no surprise that as we age, our driving abilities may start to decline, which increases the risk of being seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. However, many can keep driving well into their senior years by utilizing safe driving practices and taking steps to reduce the risks that come with getting behind the wheel.
As we age, we may start to see a decline in certain physical and mental skills that can impact the way we drive. Some include but are not limited to:
Regular evaluations of an elderly person’s driving skills can help caregivers recognize any of these risks. While any one of these alone doesn’t mean an elderly person needs to stop driving altogether, some adjustments may need to be made in order to ensure he or she continue to be safe on the road. Caregivers should also inspect the car for any dents or scratches and take note of any traffic citations. In many states, the law requires that anyone over the age of 65 renew their driver’s license every five years and take a vision test each time. As good rule of thumb, seniors should have their vision and hearing checked annually.
While seniors may not need to give up driving completely, they might have to make changes to their driving habits. For example, driving at night can pose a huge risk if vision is not what it used to be. This causes some elderly people to choose to only drive during daylight hours. To adapt to a change like this, elderly individuals may need to make adjustments to their schedules or designate alternative methods of transportation, such as friends, family, or public transportation.
Depending on the situation of the individual, elderly people may need to avoid driving alone, on highways, during rush-hour traffic, or in poor weather conditions. This can help reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents. A good tip, regardless of age, is to make sure drivers feel comfortable and safe in the car they are driving. If they are afraid to drive the car, then they’re going to drive it like they are afraid. The best thing to do is to choose a vehicle model with a high safety rating. However, if purchasing a new or used car is out of the budget, learning about the different safety features of the current car they are driving can help to put their minds at ease.
As mentioned previously, it can be difficult for elderly people to know when let go of the car keys. They may feel like they are giving up the only piece of independence they have left. As caregivers, it is important to help older loved ones understand when driving has become too risky. It can be a very sensitive situation, so approaching the subject will require a great deal of care. Always be respectful and understanding.
Don’t be afraid to give specific examples as to why you are concerned. If he or she objects, don’t give in. Remember, their safety is your primary concern. Hosting an intervention may also be a good idea. If multiple people express their concerns, our loved ones may be more inclined to listen. The transition can be tough, but the right help can make the transition as smooth as possible. They may even enjoy the change of pace.
Angel’s Senior Home Solutions offers transportation services. We are happy to take your loved ones to appointments or anywhere else they need to go. For more information about caring for an elderly loved one, contact Angel’s Senior Home Solutions for the assistance and support you need.