Rules of the Road: Keeping Older Adults Safe Behind the Wheel

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Home Instead Senior Care offers smart tips for senior drivers

During the summer months, vacations, construction and increased traffic can make driving more stressful, especially for older adults. In fact, according to AARP’s 2018 Home and Community Preference survey, nearly 90% of aging adults drive themselves. Though many adults 70 and older are able to drive safely, it is important to continually assess driving skills and recognize changes that could put them or other family members at risk.

“Driving can often be considered one of the last symbols of independence for older adults,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care. “The keys to keeping older drivers safe and independent are to continually assess a loved one’s abilities, communicate concerns and plan ways to transition driving practices, if needed.”

To help ensure safety on the road, Home Instead Senior Care recommends the following tips:

  • Select the right vehicle. Select a vehicle that best accommodates you or your loved one’s health and physical state – including any reduction in sensory or cognitive skills. According to the New York Times, useful features may include an easy-to-grip steering wheel, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry and a button to easily start (and stop) the engine.
  • Consider installing assistive technologies. There are a variety of technologies available to keep drivers safe, including smart headlights, emergency response systems and blind spot warning systems. It’s best to introduce these features as soon as possible to allow time to get used to them.
  • Know the warning signs. There are many indicators a driver may be losing the confidence or ability to drive as they age, such as unexplained dents, trouble turning to see when backing up, increased agitation while driving and riding the brake. These factors may mean it’s time for a conversation about safe driving.
  • Sharpen driving skills. Sign up for a program to help hone driving skills, such as the AARP Driver Safety Program or the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Driver Improvement Program.
  • Look for safer routes. Identify routes that are generally easier to navigate due to improved signage or roadway design, such as streets where there are traffic lights with left-turn arrows. A pre-planned route can help drivers feel more confident and make sure they safely get where they’re going.
  • Try alternative transportation options. It’s important to remember that driving does not equal mobility. There are many alternate methods of transportation – like ride-share services and public transportation – allowing non-driving adults to maintain their independence and stay engaged in their communities.

For additional tips on safe driving practices for seniors or starting the conversation about driving, visit caregiverstress.com.

ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 11 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources.
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Dan Wieberg
Home Instead Senior Care
+1 (402) 575-5970
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