When discussing the topic of aging in place, the matter is often described as an elderly’s love for freedom and independence. However, this kind of description forgets a third word, which is equally important for a senior citizen: mobility. For aging adults, the ability to drive somewhere becomes vital. The car is their main way of transportation, even if it means a few corners, since they are no longer in shape to walk outside their home. But society hauls them over the coals because their driving skills aren’t as sharp as they used to be, not to mention their poor reflexes and decreased sense of navigation. But what can an anxious relative do when caught between two tides? You obviously don’t want to forbid them for their only way of transportation, but you don’t wish to see them injured in an accident either. Let us give you some pointers.
Driving Lessons and Tests
Elderly are just as cranky about the age of their driving license as their own age. Criticizing their driving and then bringing up the idea of some extra lessons would deem it to absolute failure. Seniors don’t like to spend on unnecessary things, but maybe if you would pay for the lessons in advance, and then present them as gift… There are driving schools that offer “extreme” lessons where they simulate a snowy road or the driver needs to perform special stunts.
Most of these lessons start by repeating the basic material. This is a good way to refresh your relative’s knowledge without making them give up their pride. Another clever way of patching up the senior’s driving know-how is by offering them a test. There are multiple quizzes about driving on the Internet; just print one out and see how well your old man fares. In case the aging relative lives alone, recommend them to take a friend or neighbor as a passenger, so they can provide coordination.
Staying Fit and Healthy for the Road
We would like to point out that the driving skills are related to the person’s mental fitness, and not to the actual time they spend driving. Even a good driver can pile mistake on mistake without a healthy mind. The brain needs to be kept in shape just like the body. Help your senior driver by offering mental exercises: crosswords, puzzles, memory games. Forget the dull quizzes aired on TV, playing chess or any other board game is far more effective. Regular check-ups with the doctors are important too. Accompany your relative to the doctor and check their eyesight regularly.
Alternatives: Uber, Public Transport,…
If doctors and other advisors highly discourage the senior from driving, it’s still not the end of their freedom and mobility. Public transport tickets are sold on a discount price for seniors, or completely free in some cases. There are other ways to reach their destination. They can ask a friend to take them for a short spin, or rely on Uber when they need to visit another town. Uber rides can be arranged by you on your own phone, so you can keep an eye on your beloved elderly.
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