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Caring for Older Drivers

For families, friends and caregivers, what to do about an aging loved one who is at-risk driving can be both perplexing and paralyzing.

"When You Are Concerned" was developed to help families, friends and caregivers facing the dilemma of what to do when an aging loved one is at-risk driving. "When You Are Concerned"; is, in part, a compilation of the experiences of families and others who have successfully resolved an unsafe aging driver situation.   When You Are Concerned is also available as a PDF.   If you would like a printed copy of this handbook, please call the New York State Office for the Aging Help Line at 1-800 342-9871.

When You Are Concerned - A guide for families, friends and caregivers concerned about the safety of an older driver

Chapter Descriptions

  • Chapter 1 - FAMILIES, FRIENDS AND CAREGIVERS - An overview of families concerned about the safety of an aging family driver
  • Chapter 2 - KEEPING TABS - How to know when it is time to become concerned. How to monitor an aging driver when you don't live nearby.
  • Chapter 3 - FINDING HELP - A surprising variety of resources are available to help you. Here's where to go and what to expect in the way of assistance.
  • Chapter 4 - DISCUSSIONS, INTERVENTIONS AND MORE - Many have successfully resolved an unsafe aging driver situation. Learn what was helpful to them. Learn how to broach the subject of unsafe driving and about interventions to protect an at-risk driver.
  • Chapter 5 - COPING - Leaving the wheel can be a watershed event for an aging driver. Here is how to help the driver cope with the change and how to cope with the guilt of intervention.
  • Chapter 6 - GETTING AROUND - Life after driving. Transportation tips for families and caregivers. Community options, other approaches and alternatives.
  • Chapter 7 - DRIVING SAFELY - Keeping an older person driving safely. Returning to the wheel. Information about adaptive vehicle equipment, simulators, classroom and in-car programs designed to keep an older person driving safely.
  • Chapter 8 - MOBILITY FOR LIFE - You, too, may outlive your ability to drive. Here are some things you can do NOW so that mobility options will be there when YOU have to leave the wheel.

Introduction

The approaching decades will bring the largest ever cohort of older drivers to our roads and highways. For some, the notion of a society of aging drivers may be unsettling. There is, however, good news. Despite the declining physical conditions associated with advancing age, research is showing that older persons are successfully adjusting for those age related changes and are driving safely well into their 70s, 80s and 90s.

While many older persons know when to surrender the keys, there are others who continue to drive when they are at-risk. For families, friends and caregivers, the issue of what to do about an aging loved one who is at-risk driving can be both perplexing and paralyzing. Families who have been faced with the dilemma of what to do have often reported taking a year or more to act! Those who have intervened report it as being one of the most difficult things they have ever had to do.

This handbook was developed to help families, friends and caregivers facing the dilemma of what to do when an aging loved one is at-risk driving. "When You Are Concerned" is, in part, a compilation of the experiences of families and others who have successfully resolved an unsafe aging driver situation. Their stories have been gathered by way of a series of surveys conducted by the Older Driver Family Assistance Program of the New York State Office for the Aging. The information has been distilled into this handbook with the assistance of a committee of experts on aging, caregiving and driving issues.

Today, there are programs which can help some older persons back to safe driving. There are also safety programs which help many to drive safely longer. Since older persons have much to gain if driving skills and judgment can be maintained or even enhanced in the third (50-75) and fourth (75+) ages of life, you will find information in Chapter 7 about programs, services and even special vehicle equipment which may help your loved one back to driving safely or to drive safely, longer.

Lastly, like the aging family member you are concerned about, some day you too may be in the same situation. You may outlive your ability to drive. What then? How will you get around? Chapter 6 discusses the issue of transportation in an automobile dependent society, and Chapter 8 explores the importance of planning for "mobility for life."

We hope the information we have compiled will be helpful to your special situation. We also hope you will be stimulated to think about your own needs after driving, as well as the critical mobility issues facing our society. Your comments are encouraged. Please send them to the address on the inside cover.

For more information about older drivers, and caregivers of older drivers:

A Guide for Caregivers

A Guide for Older Drivers



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