America’s population of seniors is growing by leaps and bounds as more of us are making better lifestyle choices simply by exercising more and maintaining a healthier diet. I know this is a positive reality, but as the population grows, so do the dire statistics regarding older driver fatalities across the United States.
Senior auto accidents occur primarily due to impairments in three functions that are crucial for safe driving:
- Motor Function
In 2014, nearly 5,700 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic crashes.
In 2015, seniors made up 18% of all American drivers and of those, 6165 senior drivers were killed in traffic accidents, or 18% of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Safety Board. I find it rather ironic how the percentages mirror each other here.
In consideration of Older Driver Safety Awareness Month, it is important to realize that seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7 to 10 years, and there will inevitably come a time when a difficult conversation about relinquishing the car keys must occur. I can probably count on one hand the number of seniors I’ve met over the last decade who did not vehemently oppose giving up their right to drive. However, in spite of their protests, personal safety and the safety of others has always taken precedence.
Here are four steps to address older driver safety and how companion care for seniors can take the place of their car keys:
- Have a Plan in Place. If you’re planning to take away this important aspect of independence, how can you help return it? Is public transportation viable? Can an in-home caregiver help? Are there local senior driving services?
- Start a Dialogue. One of the big obstacles to having THE TALK is our natural human instinct to TELL. The point of saying it’s a conversation is that we need to understand what the situation is from the older person’s perspective before we can even contribute to a solution or a recommendation.
- Involve a Third Party. Many families turn to a neutral third party to evaluate a senior driver and help break the news to them that they should consider quitting driving. This can be a family doctor, an occupational specialist or a therapist who specializes in aging issues.
- Get Creative. In cases where a senior driver should not be driving, it may be necessary to take more drastic steps. Some methods experts recommend include disabling the vehicle, hiding the car keys, and keeping the car at another location.
The way aging adults want to determine when to stop driving differs from person to person:
- 30% of Americans 65+ prefer for their family to determine when it’s time
- 26% of Americans 65+ prefer to make the decision themselves
It’s hard to know which percentage your loved one will fall into, but Home Helpers® is always here to help.
The compassionate caregivers at Home Helpers® are trained to aid families who experience a wide variety of care issues, and they provide valuable support through companion care and transportation assistance when age, illness or disability prevents seniors from driving.
Additionally, personal monitoring services through our Direct Link® service—offers peace of mind knowing that help is always available with the touch of a button, should an emergency arise.
As important as independence is to seniors, senior independence can remain intact when aging adults who can no longer drive, have an in-home caregiver to provide companionship and help with transportation assistance for running personal errands, keeping doctor and salon appointments, grocery shopping and more. That said, I am available for a FREE consultation to assess your loved one’s personal situation and match the perfect caregiver to assist when the time comes.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018 & 2019. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ (727) 240-3059
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration