In 2009, 33 million licensed drivers were over the age of 65. By the year 2030, that number is expected to increase to 70 million.
You mom or dad may complain about the road, how everyone seems to be in a hurry. And studies show that younger drivers are more aggressive. But aging impacts driving in different ways.
Arthritis can make the impact of turning the wheel, or turning your head to look over your shoulder, a difficult thing to do.
Medications can impact judgment.
Limited mobility might cause a foot to slip from the accelerator to the brake, with slower reaction times to correct the situation.
But then, you might know all of this. You might be witnessing it with your mom or dad. Maybe you’ve seen dents and scratches on their car. Maybe you’ve followed them, wincing a time or two as you watch them head into a busy intersection. Maybe they’ve said things that have made you cringe.
Should you take away the keys? That’s not as easy as it seems. They may fight you. And they may win. What should you do?
Start The Conversation
Sometimes it takes a stressful moment to make them realize the consequences. By bringing up little details here and there, you might be able to make them think twice. Even if you’re met with negativity, don’t be afraid to start the conversation again and again.
Are They Healthy?
If you have any doubt, the best place to start is with their doctors. When is the last time they had their vision tested? Have they had their hearing evaluated? Also, check which medications they are on and what side effects they may have. If you don’t have access to their doctors, you can start with a pharmacist to learn what you can. Some medication can make them drowsy or less alert. And when two, three, or even four prescriptions are taken together, the side effects can be worse. This provides you with more knowledge to help them consider limiting or stopping driving.
Assess Their Car
Today’s cars have advanced in technology quite rapidly. How old are your parents’ cars? They might not be utilizing all of the features in the right way. They might not understand how to make necessary changes. Is it easy for them to get in and out of the car? Do they have the appropriate legroom to reach the pedals? Are mirrors set correctly for proper vision? Today’s cars come with a variety of new features that can make the experience easier. How about larger control buttons? Or adjustable seats with only a touch of a button? They may jump at the chance of upgrading their vehicle, especially if it can add years of independence to their lives.
Remember drivers ed from when you were a teen? Those same education programs offer a wide variety of driving courses. Look for one that specializes in helping the elderly sharpen their driving skills. Assure them they won’t be alone in the classroom; there are many others just like them taking classes to be better drivers. And if they need additional incentive, check with their insurance company. Some places offer discounts once you complete a course.
Bottom line – driving is serious business. If you have doubt, stick with it until you work it out. The lives of your parents and others may depend on it.