As the number of older adults soars, the average age of drivers climbs, too. Despite what you may have heard or read, however, senior drivers aren’t the ones causing the majority of accidents on our nation’s roads and highways. Teen drivers are three times more likely to cause an accident than older adults.
But there are some statistics that should be concerning for families of seniors. One is that older drivers are more likely to cause harm to themselves than others. In fact, in 2009 almost 4,000 drivers 70 and older died in automobile accidents.
For adult children, just the idea of talking with a parent about giving up driving can cause anxiety, especially if they live too far away to provide transportation for them. Finding transportation to the grocery store, medical appointments, and other necessary outings is often difficult.
What can you do to help a senior keep driving and stay safe?
Research shows the answer might be exercise.
Exercise and the Older Driver
Several studies, including those from MIT Age Lab and the AAA Foundation, have shown that physical fitness is closely tied to driving safety as we grow older. Specifically, senior drivers need to maintain strength, flexibility, and range of motion to stay safe.
MIT Age Lab and The Hartford Center for Mature Driver Excellence
These two organizations joined forces to research and develop a set of exercises for older drivers. The result was a series of eight no-impact exercises that help older drivers improve their ability to turn their heads and rotate their upper bodies while also increasing overall stamina and muscle tone.
You can download Exercise for Mature Drivers at no cost.
AAA Foundation and Older Driver Safety
The AAA Foundation created a similar resource called the Flexibility Fitness Training Guide. This guide demonstrates exercises that help older adults improve their driving skills. You will find the following:
- Chin Flexion-Extensions
- Shoulder Rolls
- Feet Stretching
- Side Bending
- Neck Rotation
- Chin Tucks
- Trunk Rotations
Each exercise is designed to improve range of motion and flexibility.
Transportation Services for Older Adults
If you and your senior loved one have come to the conclusion that it’s time for them to hang up their keys for good, creating a list of transportation options is important. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Call the local agency on aging. Most agencies maintain a list of reliable, affordable transportation services for seniors in the county.
- Ride share services can be another option to explore. Some, like Lyft, are making a concentrated effort to attract seniors with easy-to-use scheduling and affordable pricing.
Another option to consider is a move to a senior living community. Transportation is just one of the many services designed to help residents stay active and independent.
Call the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you to learn more about our transportation program!