For many teenagers, driving a car represents one of their first steps into adult freedom. They can go where they want to go, they have some freedoms and responsibilities with their friends, and they get to practice good decision making skills at a whole new level. Driving is such a meaningful milestone for so many people, but as we age, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay safe on the road. What can you do to keep yourself and the seniors in your life safe behind the wheel? Check out some facts and tips about senior safety on the road below!
Signs of Danger Behind the Wheel
Many seniors hesitate to admit when driving becomes more difficult for them. After all, why would they want to discuss their new struggles with the kids who they taught to drive so many years ago? As an adult child of an aging parent who drives, it is important that you remain aware of how these qualities could be affecting your parents’ abilities to drive well:
- Limited vision or hearing
- Decreased reaction time, judgment, or attention related to health conditions and/or medications
- Poor posture
- Muscular weakness when operating a steering wheel, brakes, etc.
- Memory loss
Keeping the Driving Senior Safe
Most seniors will not admit to or even notice some of the difficulties they experience behind the wheel. What can you do to show you care and to protect them from potential danger? Here are some tips for making this transition as smooth as possible!
- Talk to them about their driving experiences
- You know your parent best, so find gentle and indirect ways to ask them about their driving. For instance, you could ask: “have you experienced anything scary on the road lately?” Listen carefully and think about how those experiences might hurt their ability to drive.
- Take a test ride with them
- If you live near your parent, take a ride with them and insist that they drive. You can keep a watchful eye on any areas where they may be having trouble behind the wheel and plan a next step.
- Find a senior driver safety check program
- Several national programs work to promote senior safety on the road! One free example is CarFit, where qualified volunteers look over seniors’ vehicles to decide if any safety changes need to be made. See if your community has a CarFit program nearby!
- Use transportation resources in your community
- If the senior in your life cannot drive safely, it may be time to find transportation services near you. Many senior care agencies and resources can connect you to both emergency and non-emergency transportation that specialize in transporting seniors. We’re one of them! Check out Senior Solutions Transportation here for more information.
Your parent loves their independence, so admitting challenges with driving will be no simple task for them. Be patient, but don’t forget to look out for them too! You may notice safety hazards that could hurt them and others on the road. It’s difficult to parent the parent, but when it comes to keeping them safe and healthy, sometimes that’s what it takes! For more information on this topic, check out ClearCare’s informational PDF below.