Safe Driving Resources for Caregivers

It's natural to be concerned about your loved one's ability to drive safely. Older adults have a slower reaction time, are less attentive to road hazards, and sometimes have medical conditions that make it difficult to drive. Intervening with the older adults in your life can be difficult because many caregivers are concerned that by doing so, they're taking away the independence that comes with the ability to drive. Surrendering the wheel is a significant event for older adults, especially since our society is so dependent on cars to get anywhere, which means that this will not only affect your loved one, but your entire care network. Now family members may have to assist with transportation efforts. That effort can cause problems between family members who may not be supportive of the decision and are unwilling to do the extra work. However, there are very real consequences of letting older adults drive if they are not up to the task, which is why it's important to start these conversations early.

Talking About Driving With an Elderly Driver

Having a conversation with the older adults in your life about whether they can or should be driving is a difficult topic to broach. For many people, delaying the topic is the best way to handle it. They wait until the person's driving has reached a point where it could be dangerous for the driver or the people around them. However, delaying it until it reaches that point can be risky and tense for everybody involved, which is why bringing it up sooner can be beneficial. Believe it or not, it's possible to make these conversations productive and less tense for everybody involved by collecting information about their driving habits before you approach them, developing a plan of action for your loved one, and then working with them to follow through on the plan. This is also a great time to learn more about adapting vehicles to fit the unique needs of senior citizens and those with disabilities and learn about other transportation options your community offers.

Driving with Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions or injuries could affect driving ability. If your loved one is diagnosed with a medical condition, learn about what safe driving with that condition looks like and find out if there are any accessibility options available to help the driving process. Some days may be good days when your loved one can get in the car and drive around with no problem, but other days may trigger issues with their medical condition and make it unsafe to drive. Learning the warning signs of these factors is a necessity to ensure your loved one is safe on the road whether it's behind the wheel or in the passenger seat.

Accessible Transportation Options

In our current world, having a reliable automobile is important, but that doesn't mean being behind the wheel is the only way your loved ones will be able to reach their destination. Most communities have options specific to older adults that are designed to meet their needs while still remaining convenient and affordable. Some of the most common options include Dial-a-Ride which offers curb-to-curb services that can be hired to start and end at an agreed-upon time, community volunteer transportation programs, and assisted transportation for older adults who need an escort to stay with them throughout the trip. These options are usually funded federally, on a state level, or locally to support older adults who are no longer able to drive themselves where they need to go.

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