Art of Aging: Senior Drivers

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that older drivers are among the safest. But eventually, we all retire from the road.

It's called "Let's Talk About Driving," and it was launched by Home Instead Senior Care.

Stephen Levin is owner of the Philadelphia office.

He said, "Because we find that many seniors are not having conversations with family members about how to give up their keys and that it creates an unsafe situation for them."

The Let's Talk About Driving website is filled with videos teaching family members how to start the conversation in a non-threatening way.

Articles that help ease the transition, and warning signs to look for, if you think an older driver is no longer safe on the road.

Levin says, "Maybe the mysterious dent that shows up in the family member's car, and they don't seem to know how it got there."

Susan Touchinsky is Director of Driving Rehabilitation/Genesis Rehab Services.

She says, "Getting lost, being gone for extended periods of time,starting to drive less at night, and avoiding bad weather driving."

Home Instead partners with Genesis Rehab Services, a company that uses simulators to evaluate everything from vision to motor skills.

"Particularly in their right foot. We want to make sure there aren't changes there," said Touchinsky.

And they look at cognitive functioning. Is reaction time slow? How's their coordination, strength and range of motion? All can be impaired by aging, disease or medication.

The simulator can also help drivers rebuild their muscles and reaction time after surgery to, say, the hip or shoulder. And it can serve as an objective intermediary. So it's a machine not a family member telling a senior they're no longer fit to drive.

Touchinsky says, "It's always challenging for families to be involved, especially if we're talking about mom or dad."

"They feel like they're a burden on their family, and it's also a blow to their ego," added Levin.

But by talking about driving, seniors can learn that there are lots of options for getting around when they can no longer get behind the wheel.

"The more we talk about driving with the older adult, the better chance we have for more positive outcomes," said Touchinsky.

For more information on senior programs, visit our Art of Aging section.
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