Driving assessment

Keven Moore: Older drivers – even though we’re healthier and more active, time can come for a tough conversation

Older Americans today are healthier and more active than ever. The aging generation of baby boomers is the fastest growing demographic group in the United States

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2018, there were more than 45 million licensed drivers age 65 and older in the United States. This is a 60% increase since 2000. By 2030, there will be more than 70 million people aged 65 and over, and around 85-90% of them will be allowed to drive.

Older drivers can be among the safest drivers on the road and often reduce their risk of injury by wearing their seatbelts, refraining from drunk driving, and obeying speed limits; however, older people are more likely to be injured or killed in an accident due to their age-related frailty. With the exception of teenagers, seniors have the highest accident fatality rate per mile driven.

The ability to drive helps older people stay mobile and independent, but the fact is that the risk of being injured or killed in a traffic accident increases with age. As we age, vision and cognition (the ability to reason and remember) decline, and physical changes can affect driving. Certain medical conditions such as heart disease, dementia, sleep disturbances, and limited hearing and vision put older adults at increased risk of car accidents. Additionally, medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, such as those used for sleep, mood, pain, and/or allergies, among others, can affect driving safety.

Several accidents can be a sign. . .

In 2019, around 8,000 older people (65 and older) were killed in traffic crashes and more than 250,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries caused by an accident. This means that every day more than 20 elderly people are killed and almost 700 are injured in collisions.

The fact is that older people outlive their ability to drive safely by an average of 7-10 years and for the first time in history we need to plan our ‘retirement from driving’ just as we plan our financial retirement. .

It was more than obvious to me the other day, as I was dropping my daughter off at her apartment complex, when we both saw an elderly woman, attempting to turn around and back into a busy parking lot, hitting a vehicle three times in the driver’s door, and she never even knew it had happened.

As a worried family member of an aging relative or loved one, this can be a very difficult conversation to have. Most families dread conversation, and many will avoid talking about it until a crisis strikes.

I remember when my mother-in-law’s driving ability started to decline, as she got a few speeding tickets and started having several minor accidents in a very short period of time. This eventually led to the incident where she pulled back into an intersection in front of an oncoming vehicle traveling at 50mph. Luckily for her and the other drivers, she was not boned, as the other driver narrowly avoided her, simply cutting off her rear fender.

When it happened, I got the call and went to her aid, and she told me she had never seen the other vehicle. It was a telling event that caused my wife and I to decide not to allow her to pick up the children.

We made excuses when we could and avoided the situation because we didn’t want to have this conversation with her. She was very proud of her independence. She finally understood and she challenged us, and it led to a very difficult conversation where her feelings were hurt despite how delicately we tried to respond to them.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University, and more than 25 years of experience in the security and insurance industry. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works both in Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at [email protected]

In hindsight, we should have taken a more proactive stance and talked to her before anything happened, because that would have been the safest and most ethical thing to do. But it snuck up on us before we knew it, and by the time it did, it was too late for proactive conversation.

For a parent with dementia, the process is much more complicated because they don’t believe there is a problem. If dementia progresses and there are other safety issues, many must take steps to obtain guardianship.

There are several signs you can look for that indicate your senior loved one should stop driving:

Frequent accidents – Usually there is a series of small incidents such as small bumps and digs, which remain unexplained. Often they will hit stationary objects and not know it, or they might swerve saying someone hit the car when they weren’t in it.

Hit the edges – Often they hit sidewalks while turning, indicating a vision problem due to macular degeneration, glaucoma or the need for a new prescription.

Driving too fast or too slow – This is often a sign that begins to occur because their judgment has diminished.

Distracted driving – Distraction is a sign of lack of concentration. Distracted driving can lead to accidents and getting lost. The best way to gauge your parent’s attention is to drive with them.

Cognitive impairment – If your parents are diagnosed with dementia or a neurological disorder, it is important that you ride with them often and pay close attention to your driving skills. The loss of cognitive ability will begin to erode judgment and orientation over time. Due to the slow progression of the disease, it can be difficult to make up shortfalls until they lead to a serious accident.

Older drivers may know their ability to drive has diminished, but are afraid to admit it due to loss of independence, embarrassment, and the cost and challenge of replacing transportation.

AAA recognizes this problem, and they are dedicated to keeping seniors behind the wheel for as long as safely possible. They are also committed to promoting viable transportation options for seniors who can no longer drive independently.

Here are some helpful tips to increase the safety of older drivers:

• Always wear a seat belt
• Drive during the day and when conditions are safest in good weather
• Discuss any medical condition with your doctor to determine if it may affect your driving.
• Discuss stopping or changing your medications with your pharmacist or doctor if you experience side effects that could interfere with safe driving, such as blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, fatigue and/or loss of consciousness.
• Have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist at least once a year. Wear glasses and corrective lenses as directed.
• Plan your route before driving.
• Leave a large distance between your car and the car in front of you.
• Avoid distractions in your car, such as listening to a loud radio, talking or texting on your phone, and eating.
• Consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend, using public transit or ride-hailing services.
• Download and use CDC’s MyMobility Plan to make a plan to stay mobile and independent as you age.

If you just can’t bring yourself to take your parents’ keys away from them, you have three options. You give them a self-assessment test by going to AAA’s Driver-65-Plus.

The second option is to ask them to have a car driving skills assessment of their ability to drive, conducted by state-licensed and trained driving instructors who can provide a relatively quick and inexpensive answer if they possess still the ability to drive safely.

The third option is to have a clinical driving assessment performed by an occupational therapist specializing in driving rehabilitation (OT-DRS). It is objective, professional and carried out by a doctor trained in the science of occupational therapy, which allows them to better understand progressive medicine. life conditions and changes that may affect driving. They may also have training in driver education, physiotherapy, physical therapy or psychology.

Be safe my friends!