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Keeping Your Parents Driving

By Sere Halverson

Keeping Your Parents Behind the Wheel on the Road Ahead

Just because someone’s getting older – even elderly – does not necessarily mean they can no longer drive safely. It’s not age itself that diminishes driving skills, but the diseases and medications that often come with age. If your parent or aging loved one is still managing fine on the road, there are steps you can both take to help them maintain their skills – and their safety.

Walking Keeps Them Driving

Recent studies found that seniors who exercise regularly tend to keep up and even improve their driving performance.

The Crossword Will Help Them Notice the Crosswalk

Encourage your parents to keep their minds busy with games, reading, following recipes, even updating their facebook page – anything that requires focused attention.

Time to Brush Up

They may have been 15-years-old the last time they took a driving class, so it’s probably time to enroll your loved one in a driver’s refresher course. Both the AARP and AAA offer refresher courses specifically designed for seniors. Check with local driving schools as well.

Manage the Meds

Medications play a big role in diminished driving skills, whether it’s the side effect of one particular drug or the mixture of several drugs and/or alcohol. Keep track of all your loved one’s medications, and always ask the doctor or pharmacist about any possible side effects. If you notice any physical or cognitive impairment, call the doctor right away.

The Right Car Makes a Difference

Is the dashboard easy to see? Do large windows improve visibility? Is the car easy to get in and out of? Does it have all the latest power steering and automatic everything? These are all questions to consider regarding your parent’s vehicle. If it doesn’t measure up, consider trading it in for one that does, or adapting it with assistive devices.

Get the Gadgets That Keep Them on the Go

Assistive devices can help older drivers (and younger drivers, for that matter) to drive more safely. Panoramic rear and side view mirrors, a driveway mirror, backup camera, GPS, and access lift are just a few of the helpful gadgets that can keep your parents driving safely for years to come.

For more information on helping your family plan ahead and initiate productive and caring conversations with older adults about driving safely visit: We Need to Talk: Family Conversations with Older Drivers. Published by The Hartford.

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