Your Family Matters

How you can help aging parents be safe drivers

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2021 | Injuries

You have an aging mother who lives on her own. You check in often enough that you trust she is taking good care of herself, but you have concerns about her getting behind the wheel of a car. You want her to be safe on the road and you want to make sure she is not a danger to others.

Aging parents are able to remain independent longer and longer thanks to technological advances. Focus on your specific concern and look for ways to allow your parent to safely maintain their independence while driving as long as possible.

Take advantage of driver assistance technologies

Easing your fears may be as simple as investing in a newer vehicle with driver assistance. Backup cameras make parking easier. Some cars even park themselves. There are cars with forward collision warning systems and automatic braking in response to both cars and pedestrians. Lane assists and blind spot warnings help keep cars where they should be on the road. Even cruise control has advanced to the point that it can brake and accelerate the car for you in response to a traffic jam. Built-in navigation systems that speak directions can help get you where you need to go without needing to take your eyes off the roads to read. All of these technologies can be a step towards keeping your parent independent as long as they understand how to use the technology.

Look into adaptive vehicles

If physical limitations are your concern, there may be mobility options available. While generally considered to make driving more accessible for those with disabilities, they can be useful for older drivers as they face physical challenges such as weakening muscle strength or decreased range of motion. For example, installing a swivel seat will make getting in and out of the car easier.

There will likely come a day when it is no longer safe for your aging mother or father to drive a car. Perhaps health conditions will impact sight or memory. Medications may impair reflexes or judgment. Altered sight, memory, reflexes and judgment are dangerous for any driver of any age. Yet, aging parents who have been driving for decades may be unable to recognize that something has changed. Have a frank discussion with your parent about safety on the roads before you reach the point of concern. Have them verbalize what they think makes an unsafe driver. Make it a point to tag along on a ride with your parent now and then so that you can recognize when they start to experience trouble with navigation or maneuverability.