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Plan Ahead to Help Keep Seniors Safe on the Road

 

A new scratch on the bumper or avoiding activities that require leaving home are often the first signs that families should talk with their aging parents about driving. Unfortunately, those conversations are not happening enough.

A new survey by Home Instead Inc. found that 95% of the surveyed seniors have not talked to their loved ones about driving, though nearly one-third (31%) said that a recommendation from family or friends that they transition from driving would make them reconsider driving.

"As adults, we don't hesitate to talk to our teenage children about driving, but when we need to address concerns with our own parents, we drop the ball," said Elin Schold Davis, occupational therapist and project coordinator for the Older Drive Initiative of the American Occupational Therapy Association. "We know that discussing driving with aging loved ones reduces their discomfort around limiting or stopping their driving. Often, families just need to know how to start the dialogue."

Nearly 90% of aging adults rely on their cars and driving to stay independent, according to the survey. Though many seniors 70 and older are able to drive safely into their later years, it is critical for families to have a plan in place before a medical or cognitive condition makes it unsafe for their senior loved one to get behind the wheel.

To help families navigate these sensitive conversations about driving cessation, Home Instead collaborated with Schold Davis to launch a new community education program, Let's Talk About Driving, available at http://www.LetsTalkAboutDriving.com. The program offers free resources and tips to help families build a roadmap with their senior loved ones for limiting or stopping driving when the time is right.

"We're passionate about helping seniors live comfortably and stay independent as long as possible, and losing the ability to drive is often a life-changing experience for seniors," said Jeff Huber, president and CEO of Home Instead, Inc. "Having a proactive discussion with aging adults allows them to take ownership of when and why driving should be reduced, and keeps seniors safe and independent."

Additional warning signs that seniors may be unsafe on the road include physical changes that impair older adults' ability to turn when backing up, increased agitation when driving, difficulty staying in lanes and delayed reaction and response time. The overarching solution to keeping seniors safe and independent is to develop an objective process to assess a loved one's driving abilities, communicate concerns and plan ways to transition driving practices.

A key component of the Let's Talk About Driving program is the Safe Driving Planner, developed to help families identify their senior loved one's current driving abilities. The free web-based tool includes conversation starters and tips to help families build a roadmap with their senior loved ones for reducing or stopping driving. Additional free resources available at http://www.LetsTalkAboutDriving.com include: warning signs that seniors may be unsafe on the road; suggestions for easing driving transitions for seniors; and vehicle technologies that can help keep aging adults safe on the road.

 

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