Can Your Senior Friend or Loved One Drive Safely?
If you’re worried about a Senior Driver being able to drive safely,
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In our society, driving equals independence and offers a freedom most adults can’t imagine living without. It allows us to go where we want to go, when we want to go, without having to wait for someone else to take us. Can your Senior friend or loved one still drive safely?
As we age, we face limitations that can reduce our ability to drive safely. Limitations like impaired hearing, slower reflexes, changes in vision, arthritis and a decrease in coordination. All of these can impact our ability to safely drive a car.
” Research shows that age is not the sole predictor of driving ability and safety. But there is ample evidence to show that most of us experience age-related declines in our physical and mental abilities – declines that can signal a greater crash risk.”
If we are proactive and start a conversation with ourselves or loved ones before safe driving becomes an issue, it can help reduce feelings of frustration for everyone. The truth is, it can be challenging to admit when it becomes unsafe to continue driving.
So, how can we be proactive and plan ahead?
Can your Senior friend or loved one still drive safely?
Let’s begin by using these 3 steps:
- Start A Discussion and Ask Questions
- Consider using an Assessment Tool
- Make a Plan Together
1- Begin A Discussion – Ask Yourself or Your Loved One The Questions Below
Driving can be a difficult topic to broach – none of us want to give up our freedom and many seniors become defensive or even angry at the thought of losing the ability to run errands, attend appointments, and visit friends or family.
Start a conversation before any issues arise and ask some simple questions, this can help determine if there are some simple fixes. Simple fixes can include cutting back on driving, not driving at night or only driving during low traffic periods.
Start with these simple questions:
- Are you getting lost in familiar places?
- Are you driving too slow or fast for the road conditions?
- Are others honking at you way more often?
- Do you have anxiety about driving at night?
- Do you have challenges with changing lanes, merging or staying in the correct lane?
- Are you getting irritated more than usual with other drivers?
- Have you been involved in multiple crashes or near misses?
- Have you found new dents or scrapes but don’t know where they came from?
- Are you feeling easily confused with traffic signals or responding to driving challenges?
- Are you suffering from impaired vision, hearing, or a decrease in coordination, reflexes and movement?
- Are you taking any medications that interfere with safe driving?
Think About the Following:
– If there are too many “yes” answers, then it’s a perfect time to begin a discussion and make an Action Plan for alternative driving arrangements.
– If there are only a couple issues, it’s the perfect time to be proactive and create a plan. That way, an Action Plan will be in place for any potential issues that can impact your ability to safely drive in the future.
– Remember, many older adults in their 80s and 90s can still drive safely! And no single sign should be a reason to believe you or your loved one are unsafe drivers.
2- Consider Using an Assessment Tool
An Assessment Tool can help you or your loved ones have a better understanding of where things stand as far as your driving safety. Can your Senior friend or loved one still drive safely?
Below are a couple of tools below for you to consider.
- AARP Safe Driving Program is great for both online and physical driving courses to improve safe driving. Learn More Here: AARP’s Driver Safety Program
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a quiz about driving situations and gives you suggestions based on your answers. Learn More Here: Senior Driver Safety & Mobility
3- Make a Plan Together
Make an Action Plan based upon the answers from the questions above, the assessment tool and your discussion. Whether you determine that safe driving is an issue or not, work together to create your Action Plan.
Things to keep in mind as you make your Action Plan:
- Show Respect & Compassion
– Be respectful, compassionate and sensitive.
– Keep the discussion based on the answers to the previous questions, or the results from the assessment tool.
– Do not blurt out all the reasons you believe they are no longer safe to drive.
– Do not make this about age.
– Understand that discussing this topic and Action Plan can cause feelings of defensiveness, anger, or hurt.
- Be Positive & Supportive
Be aware of your tone and avoid confrontation in your discussion.
- Consider saying things like:
– “I understand that this may be upsetting.”
– “Let’s work together to find a solution.”
– “Our goal is to keep you safe.”
- Do not say things like:
– “You are no longer a safe driver.”
– “You are too old to drive.”
- Focus On Safety & Independence
– Remember, the goal of any plan is to preserve independence and freedom as much as possible.
– The plan needs to keep you, or your loved one, involved in meaningful activities that enhance the quality of life
– The plan needs to keep you, or your loved one, safe. Can your Senior friend or loved one still drive safely?
- Action Plan For Events & Activities
Follow the steps below once you determine whether you need some Simple Fixes for driving safely, (like not driving at night or in stormy weather, or only driving during low traffic periods) or you decide that you need More Alternatives for transportation.
– Make a Chart & a List:
List all of your ‘Current Events & Activities’, along with ‘How You Get There Now’ and ‘New Ways To Get There’. The list should include all routine activities like the grocery store, pharmacy, hairdresser, massages, the doctor, etc.
– Remember To List All Other Regular Activities, too:
Social activities or events, religious services or activities, classes, community events, and special events like birthday parties, movies, restaurants, visiting with friends, etc.
– Come Up With Alternate Solutions For Transportation that include:
Help from family and friends, carpooling, Uber, MEO Senior transportation or even having things like groceries delivered.
You can also check into the possibility of a Home Care Agency for help!
Sources: NHTSA, AARP, AAA
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