Brenda Lyle – Special to FLORIDA TODAY
Reader question: How do I talk to my senior parents about driving?
Answer: This can be a tough issue to tackle.
The Sunshine State leads the nation in traffic fatalities involving at least one driver over 65, and the highest number of fatal crashes with drivers 90 or older.
Make no mistake: many seniors are cautious, excellent drivers. But aging can — and does — affect memory and decision-making processes, the ability to see and hear clearly, reaction times and other skills and abilities that are required for the safe operation of a car.
Seniors and their families routinely struggle with this important question, since a car in America means independence and mobility.
The best approach is to initiate a calm, caring conversation BEFORE an unsafe driving situation occurs.
- “I’m glad you made the decision to give up nighttime driving. I wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable when you are driving.”
- “Have you asked your physician if your new medication will impair your driving ability?”
- “I’m worried about you getting lost.”
- “Let’s talk about alternative transportation options.”
A quick Google search turns up great resources to help keep older drivers on the road – SAFELY.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a tool called “My Mobility Plan” that guides seniors through an assessment of safety in their home and on the road.
Also from the CDC is: “My Neighborhood: A Plan to Stay Mobile in My Neighborhood,” with various driving scenarios.
AARP Driver Safety, AAA and the American Occupational Therapy Association teamed up to create a program at CarFit.org, where older adults can check to see how well their personal vehicles “fit” them.
Driver refresher courses by AARP (in person or online) have the added benefit of lowering your insurance premiums once you pass the course.
There now are nearly 4 million licensed Florida drivers older than 65.
Once over 80, seniors must only pass a mature driver vision screening to renew their license for another six years.
So what do you do about unsafe driving by the senior in your life?
In Florida, you can use “Medical Reporting Form” 72190, to initiate a doctor certification of their ability to drive.
Once signed and submitted, the identity of the person making the report is protected.
Taking the keys away from an aging parent is difficult — for everyone involved. One Senior Place can offer you advice with that difficult situation and provide a free copy of “My Mobility Plan.”
Don’t wait for your mom or dad to become a statistic. Take the first step to keeping them — and our roadways — safe.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place, Greater Orlando