There are currently 45 million licensed drivers in the US aged 65+, a number that’s growing by the day. Sadly, more than 7,000 seniors die in motor vehicle accidents every year, with another 250,000 treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries. If there’s a senior motorist in your life, knowing when to have “the talk” about turning over their car keys for good isn’t easy. Here are some of the warning signs to watch for.
Driving Challenges for Older Motorists
Although age isn’t the only determining factor, any of these age-related changes can make driving more challenging for seniors:
- Vision and hearing problems
- Slower reaction times
- Drowsiness caused by certain medications
- Chronic medical conditions that affect balance, coordination, and flexibility
- Diminished muscle strength, especially in arms and hands
- Cognitive decline and cognitive impairment
Is Your Loved One at Risk?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these classic warning signs could indicate that it’s no longer safe for your loved one to be behind the wheel:
- Running stop lights or signs
- Frequently clipping the curb
- Lane drifting or trouble changing lanes
- Delayed responses to unexpected situations
- Trouble judging distances
- Easily distracted behind the wheel
- Driving too fast or too slowly
- Getting lost in familiar places
- Anxiety and lack of confidence
- Difficulty moving their foot from the gas pedal to the brake
- Numerous traffic tickets
- Other family members express their concerns
- Drivers honk at them often
- Failure to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists
- A lot of dents or scrapes on their vehicle
To better assess their driving skills, ask your loved one if you can ride along the next time they are running errands. If possible, ride with them during the day and after dark. If you notice several of the warning signs listed above, your loved one’s health and wellbeing – along with other motorists and pedestrians- is in danger.
Convincing Them to Say “Yes”
For reasons like pride and denial, most elderly motorists don’t want to give up their driving privileges. Turning over the car keys for good is also a major blow to senior loved ones’ freedom and independence. Convincing your loved one to make the right decision is possible by taking these steps:
Share your concerns
Using a firm-yet-respectable approach, sit down and share your concerns, along with specific examples of driving mistakes that you’ve observed. Tell your loved one how much they mean to you and why their safety- and that of others- is such a concern. Don’t be surprised or get discouraged if you face resistance at first.
Mention specific examples
Show them recent news articles about fellow seniors who were involved in serious traffic accidents that they caused. If any of their elderly friends were recently injured in a crash- or injured someone else- discuss those incidents too.
Put on a unified front
If mutual friends and family members are also concerned about your loved one’s driving habits calmly bring up the topic in a non-threatening group setting like a cookout. Sometimes putting on a unified front is the best way to convince a stubborn senior to accept their driving limitations.
Discuss transportation alternatives
One of the main reasons why independent seniors want to stay behind the wheel is so they can enjoy an active lifestyle. Restore your loved one’s peace of mind by helping them find reliable transportation alternatives like:
- Public transportation services geared towards seniors
- Ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft, etc.)
- Community volunteers that transport the aging
- Other family members and friends
- Transportation services through a licensed home care agency
We’ve Been Safely Transporting Seniors for Over 25 Years
Is it time for your senior loved one to turn over the car keys? Finding reliable transportation for an aging loved one can be hard when you’re short on time or live far away. At Colonial Home Care Services, we specialize in safe and comfortable transportation services for seniors in Orange County. Whether it’s helping them run errands or visit friends, your loved one’s safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns. All our professionals are carefully selected and thoroughly screened to ensure they have the skills, knowledge, experience, and personality to be exceptional caregivers.
As a locally owned and family-operated home care provider serving Orange County, Long Beach, Mission Viejo, and surrounding communities, Colonial Home Care Services has been providing peace of mind to those we serve for over 25 years. To learn more about our award-winning home care services now, or to schedule a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in our service area today, please visit Colonial Home Care Services at www.colonialhomecareservices.com.