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How to Talk with an Older Adult about Their Fitness for Driving

How to Talk with an Older Adult about Their Fitness for Driving

<!–[CDATA[Before you approach the subject of driving with an older adult, take time to learn more about senior drivers. The topic is more complicated than you might think. It’s rarely an easy conversation to have, so you’ll need to go in to it prepared.

Separating the myths from the facts about older drivers is important. It will help you understand and empathize with your senior loved one’s point of view. Remember, things aren’t always what they seem. 

Preparation Paves the Way for a Better Discussion

We put together this primer for caregivers who feel the time has come to have a talk about driving.

Step One: Strip Away Your Misconceptions

Americans are living longer and keeping their driver’s licenses longer, too. That has resulted in a 50 percent increase in the number of older drivers since 1999

Of the 40 million registered older drivers on the roads, most are safe drivers. But others really aren’t. If you suspect your senior loved one falls into that latter category, ask yourself why you’re having those feelings.

The decision to stop driving isn’t about age. It’s about ability. 

Do you think it’s time for your senior loved one to limit or stop driving simply because they’re a certain age? If so, you’re letting your assumptions get in the way of making a good decision. 

Below, you’ll find information on how to assess someone’s driving so you’re not merely relying on age to make a decision. In reality, many adults continue safely driving well into their 80s.

Step Two: Understand the Stats

Studies about older drivers can be interpreted differently and result in different outcomes. 

For example, the CDC reports that in 2014, more than 236,000 older Americans ended up in emergency rooms because of injuries sustained in car crashes. That makes it sound like older drivers are involved in a lot of accidents, which may lead people to believe older adults are the ones causing the crashes.

However, the CDC also reports that older adults are more likely to be injured in a car accident. The risk of being killed or injured does increase as we age, but it doesn’t mean aging causes bad driving

The fact is, older adults are more likely to need medical attention when they are involved in a crash. It doesn’t mean they caused the accident! A younger driver may be able to just walk away from the same crash that sends an older driver to the emergency room. Stats can be conceiving. 

Step Three: Understand Your Senior Loved One’s Point of View

We live in a country that’s in love with its cars. From our teen years right on through to older age, driving represents freedom and independence. Giving up a lifetime of driving is no small matter for your senior loved one. So when you approach the topic, keep this in the forefront of your mind at all times. 

Step Four: Enlist Some Help

You and your loved one may need some third-party assistance with your decisions. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has an interactive tool designed just for situations like yours.
It’s a self-evaluation that helps older drivers assess their abilities across eight key areas of driving skills. At the very least, the tool can be used to improve the safety conditions of your loved one’s driving experience

Step Five: Do Your Homework

Even if your senior loved one agrees that driving is becoming an unsafe practice, he or she may wonder what their transportation alternatives are. Be prepared with some answers. From van services provided by the county or city government to family caregivers and private transportation companies, bring choices to the table. 

Thinking Ahead: The Five Star Difference

Seniors who can no longer drive can still live independent lives. At Five Star Senior Living, we provide transportation for residents who need it. This allows them to get around town and enjoy an active lifestyle on their own terms. Call us today or visit us online to learn more about Five Star Senior Living

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