Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is the first week of this month, and the importance of the annual event goes well-beyond the month of December. The idea behind the campaign is to promote the transportation needs of Older Americans and to help them find safe, secure solutions whether that means driving or not. Without transportation, seniors are often confined to their homes.
Adult children and family members of older adults should try to anticipate driving problems before an accident occurs, and help them establish mobility options when driving is no longer safe. Attending an upcoming doctor’s appointment with an elder loved one can shed light on any health-related issues that might negatively impact his or her driving. This can include medications with side-effects, as well as dangerously diminished vision, hearing, and cognitive capabilities.
Short of taking away the keys, adult children can help by making practical adjustments to an elder parent’s vehicle. These practical adjustments can include raising the seat high enough for a clear view of the road, keeping windshield wiper blades in proper working condition, and setting headlights to an automatic “on” position. Educating senior parents about safety tips is also important. Consider sharing these tips with them: Avoid driving at night
- Avoid driving during high traffic periods, like rush hours
- Drive only on familiar streets
- Stay close to home as much as possible
- Do not drive during rain, fog, or snow
- Never drive when feeling tired, lightheaded, or stressed
- Always wear glasses and hearing aids
- Never use a cell phone while driving
Keep in mind that older adults often feel a sense of loss when they give up driving. Without encouragement and access to transportation, they are at risk of social isolation, depression, and compounding health problems. Seniors may be surprised at the amount of options that exist in their communities, on top of depending on rides from family, friends, and neighbors. Local social programs, places of worship, some businesses, and many other organizations offer transportation services specifically for seniors. Volunteer driver programs, taxi services, and paratransit options are also available in most communities.
Helping seniors secure safe and reliable transportation is what Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is all about. Remember, safety should be something we think about at all times. Do not wait to talk to your loved ones about this very important issue. You may contact us to schedule a meeting with our law firm so we may help you with this or any elder care issue.