Are you concerned about the prospect of a senior loved one continuing to drive? Here are some tips for sharing your concerns and working together to come up with solutions.
Posted in , Oct 6, 2016
Content provided by Home Instead Senior Care.
If you’re a family caregiver, you may have your suspicions that an older loved one could no longer be safe behind the wheel. Perhaps a senior is starting to have his or her own qualms about driving as well.
Developing a process to assess an older loved one’s driving abilities, communicating concerns, and, if determined necessary, planning ways to transition that individual from driving could help take some of the emotions out of this potentially controversial and contentious situation. The best part of an objective process is that family caregivers and their loved ones could end up on the same page.
Driving does not equal mobility. It is one mode for getting from Point A to Point B. Giving up driving is not giving up engagement in the community.
That notion—that giving up driving is giving up independence—should be countered at any stage of the process. Here are four suggestions to help make sure transitions to alternate driving solutions go smoothly and help the senior maintain independence.
1. Do all you can to help keep a safe driver safer. Learn more about the Car-Fit program. CarFit is an educational program created by the American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with the American Automobile Association (AAA), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The program is designed to help older drivers find out how well they currently fit their personal vehicle, to highlight actions they can take to improve their fit, and to promote conversations about driver safety and community mobility. A proper fit in one's personal vehicle can greatly increase not only the driver's safety but also the safety of others.
Four quick examples underscore how the CarFit program works. According to CarFit:
2. Get the facts. Any decisions about giving up driving should be based on data. Seniors have rights and deserve to have more than just opinions or suspicions influencing whether they can continue to drive or not. That’s where evaluations are helpful. Here are some ways to get the facts:
3. Listen and communicate. Listen closely to the senior’s fears and apprehensions about giving up driving. Family caregivers need to understand these concerns to be able to develop a plan with which he or she feels comfortable. Start a pro and con list of some of the options being discussed. For instance, a pro of giving up driving would be money savings in auto insurance, gasoline and car maintenance.
4. Create a plan with plenty of alternatives. When you know the root of the senior’s concerns, it will be easier to create a plan that meets the senior’s needs. For example, if a senior is worried about isolation, look into public transportation options or consider friends who might be willing to drive in exchange for a free lunch once in a while.
According to a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, surveyed seniors reportedly are most often driving to go shopping, whether for groceries or other things, and to visit friends and relatives. If it’s necessities, such as groceries, look for stores that offer free deliveries.
Family caregivers encountering push-back from a senior loved one who wants to continue driving can check out some suggested ways to help counter any resistance at LetsTalkAboutDriving.com.