How to Keep Senior Drivers Safe & Independent
As your loved one gets older, you might wonder how much longer they can independently drive a vehicle safely. Seniors desire independence as long as possible but must also consider their physical and mental abilities. With the right plan in place, many seniors can drive as they age over the years. Before you and your senior loved one make the decision to hang up the car keys, read these senior driver safety tips to help the older adult in your life safely drive themselves for as long as possible.
Limit Driving to Daytime
Daylight hours prove to have the best visibility for driving. Therefore, encourage your senior parent to limit their driving to the daytime. Driving during sunrise, sunset, dusk, and nighttime reduces visibility and can make it more challenging to see the road and surroundings. Additionally, be mindful of weather conditions before driving. Fog, heavy rain, snow, and ice are all very difficult driving conditions.
Stay Within Familiar Routes
Your senior loved one has daily and weekly routines that help them stay independent. Driving to these familiar places is a great way for them to continue driving without adding the pressure of following directions. As your senior loved one ages, encourage them to stay within familiar routes they often take, like to the grocery store, church, doctor’s offices, and hair appointments.
Get Vision & Hearing Checked Often
If your older family member wants to continue driving, they should have their vision and hearing checked regularly. Additionally, if they are prescribed glasses, contacts, or hearing aids, make sure they are always used while driving.
Stay Physically Active
Maintaining strength and flexibility can help your senior loved one’s driving skills. Daily exercises like walking, strength training, water aerobics, or gardening are great ways to improve strength and mobility. Increased strength, flexibility, and mobility can help seniors feel more comfortable driving, which also helps them navigate the roads safer.
Discuss Driving With Doctor
It will give you and your senior peace of mind to discuss driving with their doctor. In addition, their doctor understands their medical conditions and any limitations those conditions bring, so always get the okay from your senior loved one’s doctor. This is especially true following surgery or illness.
Check Vehicle Settings
Be sure to check your senior family member’s vehicle settings on a regular basis to ensure everything is comfortable and safe for them to drive. For instance, seat height, mirror placement, tire pressure alerts, and radio volume should all be maintained for safety and comfort. It may also be wise to ride along with them occasionally to see how their car settings function for them.
Consider a Car With Extra Safety Features
The type of car your senior family member drives is also important. Choosing a vehicle with automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes is critical. Additionally, if it’s feasible, consider a newer vehicle equipped with extra safety features. For example, many new and used models include a backup camera, visual and audible alerts, and parking sensors, which can help your older adult while driving!
How Long Can an Older Adult Drive?
The answer depends on your senior’s specific condition and abilities. If you can ride with your older family member and observe their driving habits and capabilities, it may help determine how much longer it’s safe for them to drive. Discuss with your senior loved one about how comfortable they feel driving too. Ultimately, you and your older family member should also discuss this with their doctor. Whenever the time comes that you think it’s no longer safe for them to drive, you do have options to help your senior feel more independent.
When it’s time to put up the keys, Caregivers United can help
In-home caregivers are excellent options to help your senior loved one with their transportation and mobility needs. At Caregivers United, we offer a variety of caregiving services to help your loved one stay in their home longer and maintain independence. Our caregivers can help with driving and transportation, as well as hygiene care, respite care, meal prep, exercise therapy, and more. Caregivers United is different from any other Sarasota in-home caregiver because we have the highest quality caregivers on our team, and we truly care about your senior loved one and your family.
With the right plan and precautions in place, your senior loved one can continue to drive safely as they age. However, if it’s no longer safe for them to drive, an in-home caregiver is a great addition to your senior family member’s support team. Contact Caregivers United for a free courtesy visit and to learn how we can serve your senior family member. Read our client testimonials to see what makes Caregivers United different!
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