Decades ago, luxury accommodations such as power steering and power brakes made driving easier and safer for elderly drivers. As these features became standard on nearly every vehicle manufactured in the United States, additional accommodations that targeted the specific needs of older drivers were integrated into many vehicles. Adaptations to seats, doorways, handles, knobs, steering wheels and seat belts helped elderly drivers manage the physical process of driving. Yet, even though several studies have suggested that vehicle design concentrate on the physical needs of older drivers by incorporating additional vehicle modification possibilities and smart technology into every vehicle, such modifications currently target only the physical needs of elderly drivers. Anyone caring for and concerned about an aging parent knows that awareness of how the physical needs of drivers change as people age is only part of the issues that face aging drivers.
Elderly drivers face many constraints that vehicle modifications can't address. In addition to dealing with issues such as fatigue, vision problems, maneuverability problems, hearing loss, medications, arthritis and other debilitating health problems, elderly drivers must also combat confusion, anxiety, frustration, memory loss, a reduced ability to multitask, diminished concentration and information overload, especially in high-traffic situations. Any one of these factors can significantly impact an individual's ability to make it from point A to point B safely. Combined, they can be deadly. Therefore, it's important to know when, and how, to transition our aging parents from driver to passenger, at the same time maintaining their self-esteem, sense of independence and, most importantly, freedom.
"According to the National Safety Council, adult children would rather talk to parents about funeral plans than about taking away car keys."
According to the National Safety Council, adult children would rather talk to parents about funeral plans than about taking away car keys. Although many seniors may willingly phase out night driving when they find it impossible to see where they're going, many do not recognize when it's time to give up driving for good. Children and caretakers can help aging parents make the transition as smooth as possible by keeping these important points in mind: