Over 45 million licensed drivers in the US are aged 65+, and that number is growing daily. Sadly, more than 7,000 seniors die in motor vehicle accidents every year, with another 250,000 treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries. In general, drivers over the age of 75 are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than are middle-aged drivers. However, turning over the car keys for good can be a serious blow to an aging in place senior’s independence. Here’s how to know for sure when it’s time for your loved one to stop driving.
Driving Challenges Seniors Face
Although age isn’t the only determining factor, these age-related physical, emotional and mental changes can all interfere with a senior’s driving abilities:
- Vision and hearing problems
- Slower reaction times
- Drowsiness caused by certain medications
- Chronic medical conditions that affect balance, coordination and flexibility
- Diminished muscle strength, especially in arms and hands
- Cognitive decline and cognitive impairment
Red Flags for Elderly Drivers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these are some red flags to watch for when you’re getting worried about an aging loved one’s driving:
- Easily distracted behind the wheel
- Running stop lights or signs
- Frequently clipping the curb
- Lane drifting or trouble changing lanes
- Delayed responses to unexpected situations
- Trouble judging distances
- Driving too fast or too slowly
- Getting lost in familiar places
- Anxiety and lack of confidence
- Difficulty moving their foot from the gas pedal to the brake
- Numerous traffic tickets
- Other family members express their concerns
- Drivers honk at them often
- Failure to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists
- A lot of dents or scrapes on their vehicle
To assess their driving abilities, ask your loved one if you can ride along the next time that they go to the store. Riding with them in both daylight and darkness is even better. If you notice several of the warning signs listed above, it’s time to have “the talk” with your loved one about turning over the car keys for good.
Convincing an Elder to Stop Driving
For reasons like pride and denial, most seniors are reluctant to give up their driving privileges. Convincing yours that it’s no longer safe to drive is possible when taking these steps:
Share what you’ve observed
Using an empathetic, matter-of-fact approach sit down and share your concerns. State specific examples of driving mistakes that you’ve observed. Tell your loved one how much they mean to you and why their safety is a concern. Don’t be surprised if they put up resistance- especially at first.
Find local news articles
Discuss some recent news articles with them about fellow seniors who were involved in serious traffic accidents during which someone was seriously injured or killed. If any of their elderly neighbors or friends were recently injured- or injured someone else- due to driving negligence, bring up those incidents too.
Involve other family members
If mutual friends and family members are also concerned about a loved one’s driving habits respectfully bring up the topic as a group in a non-threatening social setting like a cookout. Sometimes putting on a unified front is the best way to convince a stubborn senior to accept their driving limitations.
Discuss transportation alternatives
One of the main reasons why aging in place seniors don’t want to give up their driving privileges is because they want to stay active. Reassure your loved one that you want them to remain independent and present them with alternatives for getting where they need to be.
If you’re not able to personally provide reliable transportation here are some other possible options:
- Public transportation services geared towards seniors
- Ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft, etc.)
- Community volunteers
- Other family members and friends
- Transportation services through a licensed home care agency
Safe & Reliable Transportation for Manatee County Seniors
Finding an elderly loved one safe and reliable senior transportation in Manatee County can be hard when you live far away. When you need a hand, call First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured agency, our family trusted home care services include transportation that’s provided by caregivers who are also carefully screened in advance. While transporting your loved one, our highly trained aides can also provide any other non-emergency caregiving assistance that they need, including if they use a mobility assistance device or have poor vision.
While in their home, our experienced aides can also perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, medication reminders, meal preparation and companionship. And, all our services can be individually tailored in an affordable package when and where you need us. To learn more about First In Care, or to schedule a FREE in-home care assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit: www.firstincare.com now!