It’s been a while since I’ve caught up on my blogging…things get in the way, life gets busy. No excuses, though, I just fell behind. I’m hoping to get caught up and have made it an early New Year’s Goal to get back on track, sharing important information.
Today I was on CBS’ The Early Show talking about older adults and driving, and the difficult task adult children have of taking away their keys. This is a topic I think all of us dread having to approach, and yet, it is one we are all potentially destined to have to address. Below are some ideas regarding talking with an older adult in your life about this difficult topic.
Just because someone is older does not mean that they cannot drive; their skills may decline with age but this skill will vary from person to person.
For older adults, driving represents freedom, independence and, for some, it ties in with their identity. Driving represents the ability to take care of oneself and not rely on anyone else. Losing a license is a reminder of what aging can take away and what is still to follow. It’s vital in this conversation to be compassionate to the concerns of the older person.
It is so important to involve the older person in the decision process. Involve other family members, health care providers, people they respect and who respect them when talking about driving vs. not driving.
Be compassion and respectful when broaching the topic. Try to avoid having making an ultimatum, although you might ultimately have no choice.
Be aware of timing. It’s not ever going to be an easy conversation but choose an appropriate time to have it.
There are some easy adjustments that can be made before taking away a license:
- older adults should avoid driving at night, dusk or dawn
- drive familiar routes, using more local roads rather than highways
- drive shorter distances
- leave plenty of time
- when possible, don’t drive alone
- start to introduce other options: public transportation or transportation alternatives. many community centers have transportation options, and there are medicare transportation options available too. some churches have driving services as well.
- Other ways to give the information:
- bring the older adult to the DMV and have them take the written, vision and driving test (similar to the taped piece). reach out to DMV to find out the guidelines and if your parent can pass the components to be a safe driver.
- AARP sponsors a driver safety program to help people deal with aging issues and driving
- Association for Driver REhabilitation has specialists that can help improve an older person’s driving or test to see if he/she can still drive
- The AARP and Nationa HIghway Traffic Safety Administration created a booklet on this topic too: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/Driving%20Safely%20Aging%20Web/
Here are the two clips from this morning’s segment. The first is about a family struggling with this issue. The second is my interview with Betty Nyguen.