Giving Up Driving Can Be Hard for Seniors
An elder law attorney can provide assistance to seniors in taking advantage of benefits programs and services that can help them to maintain their independence and that can help them to enhance their quality of life. As seniors get older and develop health issues or age-related infirmities, they may require more services and supports. Zimmer Law Firm can help seniors to take steps to qualify for programs like Medicaid, which could pay for long-term care at home, and can also provide assistance to seniors in exploring other sources of benefits that may be available to them.
One big issue that seniors often face when trying to remain independent is that it becomes unsafe for them to drive. The News Herald recently reported on this problem, indicating that it is often very difficult for seniors to admit when they are too old to drive because it means giving up a lot of independence.
Giving up Driving is Hard for Seniors to Cope with
According to News Herald, it often falls to children of aging parents to determine when their parents are no longer able to drive. Because most seniors won’t admit to themselves that they are no longer safe behind the wheel, or because their age and condition prevents them from understanding the risk, seniors often don’t realize when it has become unsafe for them to continue operating a motor vehicle.
When seniors drive too long and it is no longer safe for them to do so, the consequences can be very serious. The risk of an accident can increase significantly as senior drivers experience slow reflexes, cognitive impairment, or vision issues that prevent them from being able to drive safely.
The risks that seniors can present behind the wheel if they drive for too long are only growing as the population ages. In fact, by 2030, one out of every five drivers in the United States will be at least 65 years of age.
Compounding the problem of the aging population of drivers, the lifestyles of seniors are also changing so older people often tend to drive more than they did in the past. Many people continue to work longer, sometimes even into their 70s or 80s, which means that these seniors may be on the roads every day commuting to and from a job. And because seniors tend to live longer and stay active longer, there are often older people driving around to various activities.
The director of geriatric care management with the Lake County Council on Aging told the News Herald that “There are more people who are out driving, more people who want to be independent,” which has led to a change in the overall population.
The director indicated that advanced age alone does not necessarily mean that someone should no longer be driving. AAA also indicated that age isn’t the only indicator of whether someone is capable of driving and cautioned that no one should have his or her driving privileges determined by age only. Instead, it’s important to consider whether a senior has retained the key skills necessary to drive safely, including flexibility, hearing, reflexes, concentration, and vision.
Some conditions, such as dementia or other serious illnesses and injuries, could be major red flags that suggest an older person is no longer going to be able to drive. However, the issue needs to be treated with sensitivity, especially when the senior thinks he or she can still drive. It’s not easy to just sit down with a parent or older relative and say that they cannot drive any more, especially as older family members may just ignore the advice if they don’t want to give up driving.
There are driving assessment programs seniors can complete in order to determine if driving safely is still something they can do and medical professionals could also intervene if children or younger relatives are worried about the safety of parents or older loved ones.
Getting Help from an Elder Law Attorney
If you or a loved one is getting older and you are concerned about continued ability to drive or other issues that could affect independence, it’s important to talk with an elder law attorney to make plans for the future. Zimmer Law Firm can help you to identify some of the steps that you should take, including making plans in case nursing home care or long-term care some day becomes necessary.
To find out more about how an experienced attorney at our firm can assist you, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call at 513-721-1513 or contact us online at any time to learn more.