Driving is at the heart of the classic American lifestyle. Unlike many compact European cities with high walkability and public transportation, most Americans will grab their car keys whenever they leave the house. In fact, Americans hop in the car for 85 percent of their daily trips. Cars are more than just a symbol of freedom. They’re also a large part of what allows us to maintain our independence. There’s a good reason that getting a driver’s license is a major American rite of passage: it’s a symbol of responsibility, adulthood, and autonomy. However, this symbol of freedom can also be a danger for some senior drivers.
But as we get older, we often face more dangers when we drive. Seniors are at a greater risk of suffering a severe or deadly injury in a crash and have a higher death rate in auto accidents than middle-aged drivers. Though seniors tend to drive more conservatively than younger people, we can’t always count on our fellow drivers to be cautious. No matter how diligent we might be about our safety, if the person across the intersection is looking at their phone, the results can be catastrophic — especially for seniors.
Car Accidents Can Be Devastating to Older Adults
One in six American drivers is over the age of 65. Of the people in this demographic who still drive, most will be taking at least one prescription, have some form of mobility issue, or other condition which can make driving more challenging. Between medicine side effects and the regular changes that come with age, senior drivers often face more difficulties behind the wheel than younger ones.
Unfortunately, we also face greater danger. Most seniors are aware of the threat that falls can present. But even though modern cars have cutting-edge safety developments, a car crash can do even more damage than a spill on the floor. The physical trauma of a car accident can be deadly. Tragically, thousands of seniors die in car crashes each year. As the number of senior drivers increases, it becomes even more important to practice the highest safety standards — or avoid the roads entirely. For seniors concerned about car accidents, an in-home caregiver can provide vital services to stay connected without needing to drive. But for seniors who aren’t ready to give up the keys, there are plenty of ways to stay protected.
Seniors Can Stay Safer on the Road
Of course, getting older doesn’t always mean we have to give up driving right away. There are many ways that seniors can compensate for age-related driving concerns to stay independent as long as possible.
The best place to start is with the basics. Always make sure to wear your seat belt, no matter how short the drive. If you can, avoid driving during inclement weather or at night. Plan your route before you drive, and always take the safest route rather than the quickest. Never get behind the wheel if you’re worried about your ability to get somewhere in one piece. If you’re not comfortable driving in current conditions, it’s always better to enlist a friend or family member or not go at all. And of course, never drink and drive.
There are many resources for seniors concerned about their driving. AAA has a useful guide, including many vehicles with helpful features for older drivers. The CDC’s MyMobility Plan can help seniors plan out how to stay independent as long as possible. AAA also offers a course, either online or in-person, which allows senior drivers to hone their skills and stay updated on the latest driving techniques. The most important thing is for seniors to remain mindful of their abilities and aware when physical changes start to get in the way of safe driving. For the times when driving is no longer an option, an in-home caregiver can help. From running errands to getting you wherever you need to go, a caregiver can remove seniors from the risk of car accidents and ensure they get where they need to go without a hitch.
December is Older Driver Safety Month
In the coming months, we’ll be covering a number of topics related to older driver safety. Keep an eye out for our next article on common barriers seniors face when trying to drive safely. If you’re concerned about a senior in your life whose ability to drive has deteriorated, we’ll also discuss the best ways to talk to older loved ones when the time comes to stop driving. By working together, we can all ensure that seniors stay safe on the road.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.