Many Miles Left to Go
My grandfather was an artist, painting contractor, builder and a stickler for keeping his tools in tip-top shape. I used to love to sit with him and watch as he took out every awl, trowel, and other assorted gadgets from his hand-made wooden tool chest to clean, inspect and refurbish each one with loving care; he used to call this his “toolkit tune-up.”
This affinity to keeping things tuned and humming included whichever white paint encrusted Chevrolet station wagon he was driving at the moment. He kept each car at least 10 years due to his attention to detail and keeping them tuned-up. Like so many seniors, he was distraught when he had to stop driving in the mid-1990s due to his increasingly impaired driving abilities.
Gramp passed in 2000 at the age of 94, but I think he would have been extremely interested to know that 12 years later, there would have been an opportunity for him to tune up his own driving abilities as well as his car.
Unfortunately, collision rates among drivers 55 and over are second only to teen drivers and by 2030, 71.5 million drivers, or approximately one in four drivers in the United States, will be age 65 or over. This fast-growing segment of our population is predicted to live 20 percent to 25 percent of their lives in active retirement.
“As we get older, we can do a lot of things better than we used to. But chances are, driving is not one of them," said Dr. Richard Harkness, CEO of ADEPT Driver. “If you need a tune-up to sharpen your driving skills, do it soon. Improving or simply maintaining your present skills is far easier than trying to regain them after they're gone."
After years of extensive research, Dr. Harkness’ team has identified the five major causes of age-related collisions:
Judging safe gaps in traffic, especially when making left-hand turns at intersections
Determining adequate distances from other vehicles when merging and making lane changes
Detecting hazards and dealing with distractions while driving
Identifying and remembering relevant objects while driving
Dealing with complex driving environments, like busy intersections and parking lots
Keeping your loved on the road for as long and as safely as possible is extremely important to them for their own sense of well-being since his or her driver’s license was a key to independence in their youth. It is also extremely important to us as family caregivers since other transportation options would have to be developed to make sure our loved ones are not isolated once they stop driving.
The true art of Fearless Caregiving is in discovering solutions to challenges as important as this and then taking the steps to implementing those solutions.
I think I can safely say that I have driven home the point. (Hmm, I need to see if Dr. Harkness offers pun tune-ups.)
Back To Top
Gary Barg is the Editor-in-Chief of Today's Caregiver Magazine, caregiver.com and the Caregiver Newsletter. You can received his newsletter for free by going to caregiver.com and signing up.