an online resource for baby boomers

Is it Safe for my Parents to Drive?

Imagine the day you first got your driver’s license. You were thrilled with the new found sense of freedom and independence!  Now fast forward about 75 years and think how you would feel if someone told you it was no longer safe for you to drive.  As people are living longer, more seniors and their concerned loved ones are faced with this difficult situation that affects both the senior’s safety and the public’s safety.

The following are suggestions we offer in response to questions we receive from our clients or those considering using Senior Helpers®.

How do I know when it is time to consider restricting a senior’s driving?

Trust your instincts. If you are asking this question then your concerns may be valid and are worthy of further investigation. In many cases, the senior themselves will gradually restrict their driving because they are not comfortable.  Signs to watch for include: no longer driving at night, avoiding highways even if it means taking a long detour, refusing to drive with family, timing all travel to avoid heavy traffic times, avoiding inclement weather and limiting the distance they travel. If you see these signs, ask why they have changed their driving habits. New or declining medical conditions, eye sight changes or side effects from medications may be why they don’t feel comfortable driving in all situations. Follow up with their doctor or the appropriate professional to address any areas of concern.

How can I objectively assess their skill level?

First hand observation is usually one of the best ways to evaluate their driving ability.  You can also talk with others who have ridden with them recently.  If you, or others, feel uncomfortable riding with them, it is time to evaluate options.  You may suggest they take an AARP sponsored senior driving class or use a private driving instructor to refresh their skills.  Many insurance companies will even offer a discount for those who attend the class.

If you are still concerned about the safety of a particular driver and are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution, you may send a letter stating the medical reason for your concern to PennDOT, 1101 South Front Street, Harrisburg, PA  17104, Attention: Medical Unit or fax to (717) 705-4415.  The information you provide is considered confidential and will not be shared with the driver.  PennDOT will initiate an investigation upon receipt of the inquiry. 

If they can no longer drive safely, how will they get to their doctor’s appointments, pick up groceries or participate in activities they enjoy?

Losing the ability to drive does not have to result in the loss of a senior’s independence.  One of the more important services a company like Senior Helpers offers is transportation assistance.  Our caregivers are insured to drive the client in either the client’s car or the caregiver’s car. We routinely take our clients to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, hair appointments and many other destinations when family members are not available.  In some areas, taxis and public transportation may be a viable alternative and offer discounted rates for seniors.

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide