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Is your aging loved one safe behind the wheel?


Driving is a privilege that most of us take for granted. Driving allows individuals to stay active and independent, even into old age.

But many adult children with aging parents have concerns about their loved one’s safety on the road.

How can adult children ensure that their loved one is safe behind the wheel?

First and foremost, there is no specific age at which an adult becomes an unsafe driver. Many individuals can continue driving into their 80s and 90s without issue.

In fact, older drivers are involved in fewer crashes than they were 10 years ago, according to the AAA’s Senior Driving website.

But there are certain physical and mental changes that can affect an individual’s ability to safely drive. Medications can also affect driving safety.

What can concerned loved ones do to keep their family members safe?

It is first important to identify potential warning signs. Missing stop lights or stop signs, confusing the brake and the gas, going over the center line, and failure to look before turning or changing lanes may indicate that a driver is at risk.

Also, look for behavioral changes: Is your loved one suddenly nervous or apprehensive about driving? Does he or she get lost or disoriented?

Are you thinking about talking to your loved one about stopping driving?

The AAA suggests framing the discussion around keeping the driver driving safely for as long as possible. Having this discussion early is key – even before your loved one’s safety is in question.

It is also important to avoid accusing the driver of unsafe driving behavior. A helpful and positive tone is much better than an accusatory one.

Your loved one may be appreciative of your help and support on this issue. Working together on this important issue can help ensure that your loved one is safe as a driver – or as a passenger.