I’d venture that many of us have had family discussions about whether it’s safe for a grandparent or elderly aunt or uncle to be driving. Driving is often the last vestige of independence and one that is fiercely held onto.
I had an aunt and uncle who worked out a unique and very shaky scheme so they could still get around independently: he couldn’t drive because of severely diminished eyesight, but he would direct his wife, my aunt, who had early Alzheimer’s, as she drove. Between the two of them, they could get to grocery stores, church, medical appointments, and bingo.
And one colleague, to prevent her father from driving after multiple accidents, told him she needed the car to get to work; in reality, she just drove it a few blocks from the house and parked it.
While author Loren Staplin and his colleagues note in ”Can Your Older Patients Drive Safely?” that “decline in driving abilities is related to functional status, not chronological age,” they also observe that the “greater risk associated with driving at age 75 and older is . . . evident in these drivers’ greater level of involvement in fatal motor vehicle accidents relative to their representation in the licensed driver population.”
They describe the many age-related causes that can lead to safety issues, including failing sight, slower reaction times, cognitive impairment, and influence of medications.
From the abstract:
The authors discuss the specific driving risks adults face as they age and how nurses can raise older patients’ awareness of these risks. They also discuss the importance of connecting older adults to community resources that may help them continue driving safely for a longer period or find alternative transportation options.
The article is free to read and offers 1.5 contact hours of CE. You can also listen to a podcast with the lead author.