Thursday, 25 June 2015

Senior Drivers

The other day I was driving on the highway when the car in front of me slowed down to a dangerously low speed. Fortunately, I saw his brake light a fair distance away and was able to slow my pace and overtake him, averting an accident. As I turned to see who was driving - as we so often do when we are ticked at the driver beside us - I noticed a very elderly man in the drivers' seat. It got me thinking about older drivers who may not realize that they are unsafe on the road. On the one hand I completely understand a senior or anyone really, who does not want to give up that aspect of their independence - especially if it is their lifeline to getting out of the house and doing things for themselves. On the other hand, I worry about the lives that are put at risk by people who may not recognize what a lethal weapon a car is....

I do believe that when a person - senior or otherwise - is unsafe on the road and doesn't recognize or acknowledge it - the responsibility to correct the problem lies with family and/or the family doctor. That being said, as with so many issues around care and diminishing independence, children often have tremendous difficulty broaching the subject fearing a negative reaction. However, not talking about it does not make the problem go away. The risks of not dealing with it far outweigh any concerns one should have with addressing it. There are ways one can approach it that make it easier for the senior to acknowledge.

As with conversations children have to have with their parents about needing care, I think that doing your homework before the discussion is invaluable. Find out the process for getting the person tested, speak with the family doctor about concerns and find out options for public transport or community resources for driving and shopping for seniors in the area. If you can organize others to take them on their errands, it might ease some of their concerns about losing their independence. There is no easy way to tell someone you want to take away their car keys but, there are ways to help them understand that it is necessary for their safety and that of other drivers on the road.

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