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Senior Health Tip #23: Increasing Driver Safety For Seniors

As a group, older drivers typically are safe. However, older drivers, especially those over age 75, have a higher risk of being involved in a collision for every mile they drive. The rate of risk is nearly equal to the risk of younger drivers age 16 to 24. While the natural instinct is to talk about taking away the car keys as parents age, older drivers can stay behind the wheel as long as possible…as long as they’re still safe drivers.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, a company with a dedicated team of gerontologists, recently published a guidebook on how to talk with older drivers. The information can help parents and their adult children make the right decision about staying behind the wheel of a car.

With recent research showing that 50 million Americans now live in households with two adult generations—almost one in six Americans—this is a conversation you’re in an excellent position to have.

Consider this advice from The Hartford:

  • Observe your loved one’s driving firsthand: Get in the car with your parent and be on the lookout for the warning signs of unsafe driving.
  • Plan out the conversation: The time to have the first conversation about driving safety is long before driving becomes a problem.
  • Keep the conversation private: People have a sense of pride in their driving and the independence it affords, and may be embarrassed if you discuss the situation with others.
  • Be supportive: Expect to have several conversations to achieve a balance between safety and independence.
  • Suggest a comprehensive driving evaluation: If there are safety concerns, an occupational therapist can assess your parent’s cognitive and physical skills and do a behind-the-wheel evaluation.
  •  Research alternatives in advance: Be prepared to offer suggestions for transportation options, to enable your parents to remain engaged in life’s activities.

To download an electronic version or hard copy of the Hartford’s guidebook, go to www.safedrivingforalifetime.com/publications.

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