As experienced drivers grow older, changes in their vision, attention and physical abilities may cause them to drive less safely than they used to. Sometimes these changes happen so slowly that the drivers are not even aware that their driving safety is at risk.
If you have questions about a loved one’s driving safety, here’s what you can do to help him or her stay safe AND mobile.
If you have the chance, go for a ride with your loved one. Look for the following warning signs in his or her driving:
Other signs of unsafe driving include:
Riding with or following this person every once in a while is one way to keep track of his or her driving. Another way is to talk to this person’s spouse or friends.
Talk to your loved one. Say that you are concerned about his or her driving safety. Does he or she share your concern?
Help make plans for transportation. When your loved one is ready to talk about his or her driving safety, you can work together to create plans for future safety.
Encourage a visit to the doctor. The doctor can check your loved one’s medical history, list of medicines, and current health to see if any of these may be affecting his or her driving safety. The doctor can also provide treatment to help improve driving safety.
Encourage your loved one to take a driving test. A driver rehabilitation specialist (DRS) can assess your loved one’s driving safety through an office exam and driving test. The DRS can also teach special techniques or suggest special equipment to help him or her drive more safely. (To find a DRS in your area, ask your doctor for a referral or contact the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED). Contact information for ADED is listed on the following page.) If a DRS is not available in your area, contact a local driving school or your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see if they can do a driving test.
At some point, your loved one may need to stop driving for his or her own safety and the safety of others on the road. You and your loved one may come to this decision yourselves, or at the recommendation of the doctor, driver rehabilitation specialist, driving instructor, or Department of Motor Vehicles. When someone close to you retires from driving, there are several things you can do to make this easier for him or her:
Create a transportation plan. It’s often easier for people to give up driving if they have other ways to get around. Help your loved one create a list of “tried-and-true” ride options. This list can include:
If your loved one can’t go shopping, help him or her shop from home. Arrange for medicines and groceries to be delivered. Explore on-line ordering or subscribe to catalogs and “go shopping” at home. See which services make house callslocal hairdressers or barbers may be able to stop by for a home visit.
Encourage social activities. Visits with friends, time spent at the senior center, and volunteer work are important for one’s health and well-being. When creating a transportation plan, don’t forget to include rides to social activities. It’s especially important for your loved one to maintain social ties and keep spirits high during this time of adjustment.
Be there for your loved one. Let your loved one know that he or she has your support. Offer help willingly and be a good listener. This is an emotionally difficult time, and it’s important to show that you care.
Contact the following organizations if you need more help assessing your loved one’s driving safety or creating a transpotation plan.
American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety
1 800 993-7222
Call the toll-free number or visit the Web site to order free booklets on how to help an older driver.
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
55 ALIVE Driver Safety Program
1 888 227-7669
Visit the Web site to find safe driving tips, information on aging and driving, and details about the 55 ALIVE Driver Safety Programa classroom course for drivers age 50 and older. In this course, participants review driving skills and learn tips to help them drive more safely. Call the toll-free number or visit the Web site above to find a class in your loved one’s area.
Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
Eldercare Locator: 1 800 677-1116
The local Area Agency on Aging can connect your loved one to services in the area, including ride programs, Meals-on-Wheels, home health services, and more. Call the Eldercare Locator or visit the Web site above to find the phone number for your loved one’s local Area Agency on Aging.
Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED)
1 800 290-2344
www.driver-ed.org or www.aded.net
Call the toll-free number or visit the Web site to find a driver rehabilitation specialist in your loved one’s area.
1 312 726-7200
Easter Seals’ Caregiver Transportation Toolkit includes a video, booklet, and list of helpful products and resources for family caregivers and volunteer drivers. To order the toolkit, call the number above or write to: Easter Seals National Headquarters, 230 Monroe Street, Suite 1800, Chicago, IL 60606.
National Association of Private Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM)
1 520 881-8008
A geriatric care manager can help older persons and their families arrange long-term care, including transportation services. Call the phone number or visit the Web site above to find a geriatric care manager in your loved one’s area.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
A social worker can counsel your loved one, assess social and emotional needs, and assist in locating and coordinating transportation and community services. To find a qualified clinical social worker in your loved one’s area, search the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers. (To access this directory on the Web site, click on ‘Resources’ at the top of the page.)