While it’s true that we should be constantly vigilant about whether
the older drivers in our lives are still safe on the road, it just so
happens that this week is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.
frankly, it couldn’t come at a better time since many of us have had or
are planning holiday visits with our parents and are facing tough
conversations and decisions about their safety, independence and quality
At Home Instead Senior Care serving Central Oregon,
these are issues we see families deal with every month of the year, and
here are some of the ways we recommend as being most successful when
facing this dramatic change:
• Make a thorough and honest
assessment. Even though people like to complain about older drivers, the
truth is that some seniors maintain the presence of mind, quick
reflexes and physical ability necessary for safe driving well into their
advanced years. Don’t assume your senior has to give up driving
completely just because of their age. According to a statistic on caregiverstress.com,
a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.auto crash deaths
among drivers 70 and older fell 21 percent during the period 1997-2006,
reversing an upward trend, even as the population of people 70 and
older rose 10 percent.
Instead, ask yourself these questions:
• Does your senior feel less comfortable and more nervous or fearful while driving?
• Do they have difficulty staying in the lane of travel?
• Are there more frequent "close calls" or near crashes?
• Are there more dents and scrapes on their vehicle, and on fences, mailboxes, garage doors and curbs along their route?
• Do they have trouble judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance or exit ramps?
• Do they have difficulty turning their head to check over their shoulder while backing up or changing lanes?
• Are they easily distracted or do they have trouble concentrating while driving?
• Are they getting lost more often?
if a senior may have to stop driving at night, in inclement weather or
during heavy traffic times, there is still a chance that they can keep
the keys for daytime errands. If you are not sure whether you or your
senior have the ability to assess their physical fitness to drive, ask
an occupational therapist to perform an evaluation for you. You can find
local contacts for that here.
Approach With Caution. Taking the keys away from a reckless teenager is
different from taking them away from a parent who may have been driving
responsibly for sixty some years. If you’re at a point when you have to
ask your senior to stop driving, try to frame the conversation in a way
that does not make them feel defensive or helpless. Be firm, but
deferential. Many people find it effective to use only “I” statements
(i.e. “I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to you.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.