Dad, We Need to Have a Talk
For most of us, driving a car means freedom, independence and increased self-confidence. You gain instant access to a whole world beyond your front door as soon as you receive your driver’s license. This is even more true if you live in an area that doesn’t have comprehensive public transportation. So when it’s time to talk about taking the car away from an elderly parent you know you are likely to face resistance.
Convincing elderly parents that it is time to stop driving is one of the more difficult conversations you are likely to have. No one likes to be the “bad guy.” This particular challenge that you face as a caregiver ultimately comes from the love you have for your parent(s) and your concern for their safety. Remember that, as you talk with them. You might have to remind them of that too.
Highway Safety Statistics
When it comes to older drivers, safety should be the utmost concern. In addition to their own, they need to be concerned for everyone else who shares the road with them. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that “drivers age 70 and older have higher crash rates per mile traveled than middle-aged drivers, though not as high as young drivers.”
The IIHS has also found that seniors are more likely to be involved in “angle crashes, overtaking or merging crashes, and especially intersection crashes. Among passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014, multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections accounted for 37 percent of the crashes for drivers 80 and older, compared with 19 percent for drivers ages 16-59.”
These age-related accidents can be attributed to age-related changes to both the body and brain, which can affect vision, reaction time, and judgement. Potential side effects from various medications can also play a role.