When you should have conversations
According to The Hartford/MIT AgeLab survey of older drivers, the following provide opportunities to talk about driving skills:
Changes in Health, Physical Ability or Medication
Changes in health and medication that cause any limitations in alertness or physical function, even if they are temporary, can have a significant effect on driving skills. About 75 percent of older adults think that a significant change in health is a legitimate reason to have discussions about driving.
Getting Lost While Driving
Almost 70 percent of older adults say that getting lost while driving could be cause for conversation. Getting lost in a familiar place may suggest potentially serious cognitive health issues that could affect driving skills. This may also be a good time to get a doctor involved in the discussion.
Car Crashes or Near Misses
Fifty percent of older drivers said having a serious crash is an opportunity to start a conversation, while about 33 percent said a minor crash or narrowly avoiding a crash should trigger a conversation. In situations where an older driver was not at fault, families might want to discuss diminishing ability to drive defensively. In all cases, these discussions are more productive if they are not held at the crash scene, where tensions and emotions are high.
Self-Directed Changes to Driving Behavior
When older drivers modify their driving in small ways without guidance from others, families should praise self-regulation as a positive step and not discourage a driver’s actions. For example, don’t dismiss an older adult as a worrier or discourage a driver who is limiting night driving by leaving a family gathering before dark. Be supportive and express your willingness to support the older driver's transportation needs.
Produced by AARP based on information created jointly by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab.
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