When it comes to caring for an aging parent, many family caregivers come up against a host of challenges. These might include making sure their parent can age in place and safely remain in their home, providing treatment support for chronic illness like diabetes, and wrangling insurance companies and medical providers to make sure their parent receives the best care.
One of the most worrisome aspects of caring for an elderly parent, however, is driving. Adults can drive up to any age until their health, mobility, vision, etc. precludes them; but the truth is, with age comes a variety of issues that can potentially impair driving – slower response times, loss of peripheral vision, and more.
If you are worried about the health and safety of your aging parent who drives, don’t miss these smart tips:
- Make sure your mom or dad are getting their vision and hearing checked regularly
- Offer to meet them for a date like lunch or shopping during slow traffic periods of the day
- Clean their windshield, side view mirrors, and side windows of streaks, spots, dirt, and pollen buildup regularly
- Encourage them to use familiar streets when getting around
- Carefully read over the counter and prescription medicine labels for side effects which might impair driving
- Encourage them to use a swivel seat or car cane for added support getting in and out of the car – click here to see top swivel seat options.
- Limit distractions when riding with your parent like having a conversation while they are at the wheel
Unfortunately, you won’t always be there to help ensure your parents’ visibility and other key requirements for safe driving. That is why having an honest conversation with your aging parent about safe driving is critical. Discuss things like:
- Avoiding driving during inclement weather
- Removing distractions while driving with the radio on or talking to passengers
- Not driving when tired or stressed
- Always wearing a seatbelt
- Always using headlights, even during the day
- Staying alert of flashing and emergency vehicle lights, especially when hard of hearing
- Raising the seat up to have a clear view in front of them
Defensive driving education classes are available through senior programs like AARP, and some auto insurance companies may even offset the cost for your mom or dad. Those types of classes help re-instill foundational driving lessons, tips, and best practices for older adults.
One final consideration when it comes to driving and the safety of your aging parent is avoiding slips and falls in the driveways. Slick, icy conditions and uneven driveway surfaces, combined with balance problems when climbing in and out of the car can contribute to a debilitating fall. In fact, 1 out of 4 seniors over 65 experiences a fall every year, most in or around the home, and many leading to hospitalization and serious injury. During fall and winter months, help your mom or dad out by salting the drive to prevent ice buildup and placing non-slip adhesive strips by their most used parking spaces.
Caring for an aging parent is both fulfilling and stressful. Equipping your mom or dad who drives with the right tools and know-how can ensure their safety and your peace of mind