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The Elderly and Driving, Is it Safe?

Caregivers in West Trenton NJ

Caregivers in West Trenton NJThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control says life expectancy is at an all-time high and the older population is rapidly increasing. By the year 2030, the population of adults older than 65 will more than double to approximately 70 million, making up 20 percent of the total U.S. population. That means many drivers on our roads will be driving into their advanced years.

Some seniors have no trouble behind the wheel, despite their age; others are not as sharp as they once were. Still, as a family caregiver, having a conversation about your parent’s driving ability or habits, may be a delicate subject no matter how close the two of you may be.

The thought of losing their driver’s license as a senior, especially after so many years of driving and independence, can be a difficult “pill to swallow.” So here are some tips on how to broach the subject with them:

  • Be respectful. For many seniors, driving means independence and as a senior they may already have lost some of their independence just by virtue of getting older. This would be a major loss. But if you have true concerns, don’t back down or be apprehensive or intimidated.
  • Give specific examples of things you or others have noticed. That will be much more effective than saying, “Well, you’re 75 now. Perhaps it’s time you started taking the bus or letting us do the driving.”
  • There’s strength in numbers. You may not be the only one who has noticed driving habits that have become less safe or sharp. Your loved one may also be more inclined to listen to a third-party who is impartial, such as their doctor.

As people age, factors such as decreased vision, impaired hearing, or slowed motor reflexes may become a problem. Your loved one may also have a chronic condition that worsens with time, or they, and you, may have to adjust to a sudden change with their health, such as a stroke. The natural aging process tends to take its toll on everyone, in one way or another. Perhaps your loved one has lost some of their strength, coordination or flexibility. That can have a major impact on their ability to safely drive a car.

If they must give up their car keys, but you’re faced with resistance, try phasing driving out. Start by eliminating driving at night; then reduce it to city driving only; finally stopping altogether. As caregiver you can play a huge role in their acceptance of it and adjusting to life without driving. Congratulate them on making the decision to hang up the keys, for everyone’s safety. Second, point out how much money they’ll save not having car insurance premiums, parking meter fees or tolls. Plus, they may make new friends by riding public transportation or a shuttle service. There’s a whole new world awaiting them when they stop driving. But help them experience it so they don’t become isolated and depressed.

Source: seniordriving.aaa.com

If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in West Trenton, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.

Dr. Shelly Chinkes, DPM

Administrator, Mercer/Burlington Division at Care Street Home Care
Dr. Shelly Chinkes, DPM, Care Street’s able administrator has more than 30 years of clinical experience in private practice and Skilled Nursing settings, with specific experience in clinical case management in Gerontology.

Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.

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