Safety is the Key
In 2003, an 86-year old man accidentally plowed his car into the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, killing 10 people and injuring 63. This tragedy ignited a national debate on the issues of senior driving.
Driving Skills Come Down to More Than a Number
There are no easy answers. Experts agree that a certain age doesn't determine driving capability, but physical and mental fitness does. A healthy, active 75-year-old might be a far better driver than a 50-year-old with diminished cognitive skills. Yet, there's no denying that older drivers as a group are medically at risk. Keep in mind, too, that cognitive and physical impairments can sneak up slowly and are often progressive. So while
your parents might seem fine at the wheel today, it's important to assess their driving skills on a regular basis. A restricted license can help them make the transition, imposing limitations such as not driving at night, on freeways and/or during rush hour.
Seven signs to look for:
- Anxiety when driving
- Slow reaction time
- Getting lost more frequently
- Car damage
- Frequent tickets
- Reluctance to drive
- Comments from friends or neighbors
When the Time Comes...
Most seniors are reluctant to give up the car keys, and who can blame them? In our culture, getting your driver's license is one of the first milestones to becoming an independent adult. Driving gives us certain freedoms. It's also associated with autonomy and control. While there are ways to make the transition to living without a driver's license easier and smoother, it's important not to minimize your parent's initial feelings of loss and possibly anger.
Lift Their Spirits by Giving Them a Lift
Arrange for you or other family members to take them to the store and on plenty of outings. Help them get familiar with public transportation and other options. Encourage them by showing them there are still lots of ways for them to get out and about.