Many caregivers will have to wrestle with the question of whether their senior loved ones should continue to drive.
Though research suggests seniors are among the safest drivers, they do face some challenges. They are more likely to be injured in crashes because of vulnerabilities, such as fragile bones. In addition, many aging-related conditions can impact a driver’s safety, and prescription medications can cause impairment.
While certain driving difficulties can be rectified with training or medical help, there are situations that may require additional consideration.
Below are three tips for caregivers to consider:
Tip No. 1: Know When to be Concerned
- Check for warning signs that a senior is having trouble driving safely. Common red flags include two or more traffic tickets or warnings, as well as collisions or “near-misses” in the past two years. Other signals include weaving and confusing the gas and brake pedals, missing stop signs and traffic signals.
- Become familiar with prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications known to impact driving.
- Review common medical issues that can compromise driving and understand how risks can be mitigated.
Tip No. 2: Be Prepared to Talk About Driving
- Consult a law enforcement officer, elder-law attorney or geriatrician for guidance.
- Collect information about local options for a professional driving assessment and driver improvement courses.
- Understand the older adult’s transportation needs and find local services.
- Be prepared to deal with negative reactions. Do not become defensive. Respond with empathetic phrases, and do not lecture or demand that an older driver give up the keys. Work together to agree on a plan of action.
- AAA and the American Occupational Therapists Association have a driver planning agreement that can serve as a guide. It’s available at https://seniordriving.aaa.com.
Tip No. 3: Research Local Mobility Choices Before They’re Needed
- Sharing a ride with friends or neighbors is one option for seniors who need to limit or stop driving.
- City buses, trams and subway systems are good ways to get around in urban settings.
- A senior could benefit from using low-cost, community-based informal transportation services called supplemental transportation programs (STPs).
- Paratransit services via specially equipped shuttles are another potential solution.
While there are many issues a caregiver must sort through, there are also many resources available to help them make the best choice for their senior. For more information, visit https://seniordriving.aaa.com or call AAA Ohio’s Traffic Safety Department at (614) 431-7891 to learn more about ways AAA can help senior drivers.