The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers over the age of 64 were only in 28.4 percent of the nation’s car and truck crashes in 2015. AAA reports that fatalities for this age group are 17 times higher than younger drivers.
You must make sure your parent is safe to drive. If you have any concerns, taking away your mom and dad’s keys is a tough but necessary move. Here are five mistakes many elders make.
Forgetting to Check Over Both Shoulders
Neck and back pain often makes it hard for seniors to turn far enough to really check blind spots. Your parent needs to check over both shoulders, too. If this isn’t possible, you need to take the keys away until a physical therapist can help improve flexibility. If exercise isn’t enough, the keys should not return to your parent’s possession.
Many elders struggle to judge distance. The elderly driver may think a gap is wide enough, but it isn’t and a crash occurs. Seniors may also mistakenly turn into a car that is closer than believed. A vision test may help improve vision, but you should ask the eye doctor if driving is still a good idea.
Driving After Taking Medications
Your mom or dad is likely taking at least one medication. Blood pressure medications, blood thinners, and cholesterol meds may lead to dizziness. If your parent takes medications, check the warnings. Driving may be one of the things listed. If the pills say not to drive at all or to wait an hour or two after taking, make sure your parent abides by those guidelines.
Reacting Too Slowly
Reaction times slow as you age. If your mom or dad isn’t reacting fast enough or gets confused and hits the accelerator instead of the brake, there’s a big problem. Consider enrolling your parent into a driving course for the elderly. If that doesn’t work, take the keys away.
Not Hearing or Seeing Well Enough
To drive properly, you need to be able to hear the traffic around you. You need to hear a train horn, another driver, or sirens. If your mom or dad’s hearing is worsening, it’s important to discuss the ability to drive properly. A hearing aid may help, but it isn’t a guarantee.
The same is true of vision skills. If your mom or dad has a hard time seeing at night, driving should be limited to the day. Make sure eyeglasses use the most current prescription.
If your parent has been told to stop driving, get alternate transportation arrangements in place. You may need to hire elder care services to make sure your mom or dad always has a ride. Caregivers can drive your mom or dad to the store, to appointments, or to community centers. Call our elder care agency to learn more about transportation services.