Cinema Categories. Fiction Categories. Nonfiction Categories. Blog Authors. Ages 3 to 7 Ages 8 to 12 Teens. Confusion and or disorientation. Loss of coordination, trouble walking, extremely stiff joints, recent falls. Shortness of breath or unusual fatigue. Difficulty following or giving verbal directions. In-Car Warning Signs: Incorrect signaling. Trouble navigating and controlling turns.
Read The Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families
Moving into a wrong lane. Confusion at exits. Parking inappropriately and hitting curbs. Increased agitation or irritation when driving.
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Scrapes or dents on the car, garage, house, or mailbox. Ticketed moving violations or warnings. A traffic accident. Driving at inappropriate speeds too fast, too slow. Delayed responses to unexpected situations. Getting lost in familiar places. Multiple traffic accidents or near misses. Confusing the brake and gas pedals. Stopping in traffic for no apparent reason. You are afraid to ride with them. In speaking with an older driver you can ask if they occasionally: Feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed about driving.
Feel that cars come out of nowhere. Find that other drivers are frequently honking at them. Feel sleepy or less alert when they drive. Sometimes think that traffic is unexpectedly speeding by them. Two dangerous coping mechanisms related to unsafe driving are: Driving Too Slowly Driving too slowly may indicate that a person is compensating for their reduced reaction time or diminished vision. Reacting too slowly at intersections and when making left hand turns can indicate that the person's confidence as well as their cognitive ability to judge the speed of on-coming vehicles may be diminished.
Using a "Co-Pilot" Some older couples rely on "copiloting" which occurs when one person steers and the other person instructs the "driver" what to do when the driver is unable to respond in an unexpected situation. This is not a case of "two heads are better than one. Please consider using these suggestions when observing and assessing an older driver's driving behaviors: Be vigilant about observing driving behavior.
Always involve the older driver as much as possible and talk with them as you make your observations. Be respectful of the older driver's privacy and always ask permission before talking to their physician or others about driving issues. Observe driving behavior even when there are no apparent problems. To assess whether an older driver needs help, a caregiver will need to: Ride with or follow the driver on a regular basis and observe their driving.
Identify warning signs that driving may be impaired, such as failure to understand traffic signs and signals. Note specific incidents, such as running a red light. Note strengths as well as deficits. Ask the older driver how he or she felt about the drive. Talk to the older driver's spouse, companion, friends, passengers and neighbors about what they may have observed and how they believe the older driver is driving.
Pay particular attention to the driver's health, disposition and behavior, especially when they are not behind the wheel.
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Note any attempts by the driver to restrict their own driving or improve their skills by taking driver courses. Inspect the older driver's vehicle for signs of damage or new paint which might be covering up recent crash damage. Write down your thoughts and observations so you can remember them when a conversation with the older driver about their safety is needed.
If your feedback network has some of the following people helping, it is likely you will be alerted by one of them when your driver is having a problem: The driver's spouse or companion is in the best position to alert you to any safety problems.
However, keep in mind that a spouse or companion may be dependent on the older driver for their own transportation needs, and thus may be hesitant to raise the issue of driver safety. Passengers and friends often know how the driver is doing. But, like the driver's spouse or companion, they too may be reluctant to say anything negative because they rely on the driver to get around. You will need to pay attention when they speak. In time, their concern for the driver and possibly their own safety will provide helpful necessary feedback.
Good neighbors never miss a thing. This is one time where you can put their curiosity to good use.
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Family members are often a good source of feedback. Share your concerns for the older driver's safety with them. Your interest in shouldering the burden will often stimulate their assistance. The older driver's doctor or pharmacist may be able to alert you when a prescription medication or over the counter has side effects which would place the older driver in jeopardy. If possible contact the older driver's eye care provider to find out if they have had their vision examined recently and prescriptions for corrective lenses filled.
The older driver's spiritual leader such as their minister, priest, rabbi, or other has a role in your feedback network, especially if the driver is actively involved in driving to religious services or to and from an organization's volunteer activities.
Find out who will help. Put them on your contact list for feedback. Older adults typically prefer to speak confidentially about issues like this with someone they trust. Early, occasional and candid conversations establish a pattern of open dialogue and can reinforce driving safety issues without the strain of asking someone to immediately retire from driving.
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Effective conversations encourage future planning and show respect for the older adult's ability to make appropriate decisions. With sensitivity toward the feelings of older drivers, caregivers or anyone attempting to help an older driver, can help the older driver make safe driving decisions to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.
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Experts in the field of older driver safety and caregiving frequently remind us that: Talking with an older driver should begin before problems occur. Involving the older driver is essential in order to achieve a successful discussion and decision-making process. Married drivers prefer to hear about driving concerns first from their spouse or companion.
There is frequently a reluctance to talk, especially about issues that are uncomfortable. A caregiver may just feel there is no point in trying to talk to the older adult about his or her driving knowing the trouble the conversation may cause. Sometimes caregivers may hope that things will just continue to be okay. The caregiver has to focus not only on the safety of the older driver but on the safety of others in the community as well. More than half of older adults follow suggestions offered in conversations about driving.
The following is a checklist to consider before talking to an older driver about safety concerns: Think about the older adult's possible responses before beginning the conversation. Understand the older adult's transportation needs such medical, social, religious, shopping, and community activities in advance of the discussion.
Be prepared to answer the older adult's most frequently asked question - "How will I get there? A simple trip to the diner may be a very important social outlet for the older driver. Have your written thoughts and observations handy so you can remember them easily when you talk to the older driver. Speak of the positives observations you have noted whenever possible. Identify what the older adult is doing right to be a safe driver. Use these "positives" when starting to talk with the older adult to help offset any negativity?.
Be knowledgeable about resources designed to help an older driver. Consider suggesting that the older driver attend a driver safety refresher course or have a professional driving assessment by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. Know that a certified driving rehabilitation specialist may suggest driver retraining or vehicle modifications, such as wider mirrors or a visor extension which might resolve some safety issues.
Be able to explain to the older driver that the involvement of an objective third party could help assess the situation and help affect the improvements that are needed. Be knowledgeable about alternative transportation resources that can help if the older driver is no longer able to get around on their own.