Driving is an important mode of transportation that seniors use to meet their basic needs, such as grocery shopping and health care appointments. It is also a source of independence for Florida seniors as they age. Unfortunately, when driving is taken away, this can lead to isolation, depression, and compounding health problems.
The good news, however, is that there are steps that adult family members can take to help senior loved ones drive safer and longer. In doing so, they can also lower associated legal risks. These topics were widely discussed during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week earlier this month. Even though the event has already passed, plenty of information was shared that can help families year-round as they address these concerns.
First, is driving out of the question? Statistics show an alarming increase in vehicle accidents after age 70. You may not know that fatalities, per mile travelled, are highest among drivers ages 85 and older. The prevailing reasons are age-related vision, hearing, and physical declines, coupled with an increase in acute medical conditions. If your senior loved one is too ill to drive, then no amount of vehicle adjustments or helpful tips is going to help. They simply shouldn’t get behind the wheel, but we know how difficult it can be to have this conversation.
Short of that, a professional evaluation can be a great to identify driving strengths and weakness. Senior-driver assessment services usually delve into two areas: driving skills and clinical evaluations. A skills test includes an in-car appraisal of driving abilities along with recommendations about possible specialized driver training. By contrast, clinical assessments identify health-related issues that may cause poor driver performance, such as trouble pressing gas and brake pedals or turning around to view a rear blindspot. In these cases, vehicle modifications can be made to support healthy driving, such as oversized rear view and side mirrors, a swivel seat to help compensate for stiff rotating joints, and pedal extenders with modified sensitivity to counter atrophied leg muscles.
There is never a wrong time for a family to come together to consult a doctor or pharmacist about medications with possible side-effects as well. Medicines causing dizziness, drowsiness or disorientation are incredibly dangerous for any driver. We know how challenging it can be to have these conversations, no matter what your age, and want you to know that we are here to support you on this and any of your elder care issues. Do not wait to contact our law office to schedule a meeting with attorney Beth Prather.