Home Care Blog>In Home Care | December 1, 2016
Homecare Assistance and Senior Drivers | Gerald is 70 years old. He has been driving since she was a young teenager. His insurance company has rewarded him with lower rates for many years because of his safe driving record. Now, because of a few medical complications, the doctor is recommending that he no longer has a driver’s license. Gerald is furious about the loss of his license. He wonders if the doctor has the right to restrict his license, and if he does, how will he live his life without the use of his vehicle?
Gerald is not alone.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are currently around 25 million drivers over the age of 70 on American highways. This number is set to skyrocket over the next two decades as the Baby Boomers age. The IIHS also notes that while many seniors remain safe drivers, “Once people turn 70, their crash rates start to tick up. After 80, the acceleration is marked. Octogenarians on up have a higher collision rate per mile traveled of any age group except for teens, and their rate of fatal collisions per mile traveled is the highest of all drivers.”
In absence of a national law on senior drivers, each state imposes its own rules. Most require drivers over the age of 65 to renew their license in person and pass an eye exam. All states allow physicians and family members to report suspicions of unsafe driving, and a handful of states actually require physicians to report their belief that a senior may no longer be fit to drive. These states are in the vast minority, however, and even then the senior can often draw out the suspension for some time.
Even if a senior knows they may be moving a little slower, seeing and hearing a little less, and having aches and pains that impact their ability to handle a vehicle as aptly as they used to, most are reluctant to turn over their keys. A big part of the issue is freedom, independence, and the ability to safely function in life without adequate transportation support. As Gerald wondered, how will life be lived without the use of a vehicle?
Homecare assistance is available in all 50 states. Most homecare providers provide transportation assistance as part of their standard services. Comfort Keepers does.
Some areas of the country have more needs than other parts. For example, seniors who live in New York City likely have much greater access to efficient public transportation than seniors who live in most any suburban or rural community. Even seniors in sprawling metropolises like Los Angeles which lack the breadth of public transit found in cities like San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, or even Pittsburgh, may find getting around difficult if not impossible.
In these situations, many seniors turn to friends or loved ones. Even those who have these options, however, find that homecare assistance affords them increased freedom and they don’t feel like they are becoming a burden, which lessens their anxiety from an already stressful situation.
Another benefit of homecare assistance is care for the underlying reason the license was taken away. Most seniors, like Gerald, who needed to give up a license, have underlying, progressive medical issues which require on-going, long-term care. It may start with transportation, but in these circumstances the homecare assistance will likely grow into many other daily living tasks and perhaps even personal care.
If you are concerned about the safety of your aging loved ones, especially in regard to fire, we can help. While it’s important to rely on the expertise of licensed professionals for certain precautions, we can provide home safety assessments and ensure your loved ones’ environment is safe.