Older Driver Safety Awareness Week: Tips for seniors and their caregivers on Delmarva

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. – Transportation fears are far too often the barrier that prevents seniors from living their lives the way they would like too, but fortunately for them and their families there are some helpful tips that can make all the difference when it comes to driving.

Mobility and transportation are important as people age, yet, according to the CDC, more than 20 older adults are killed and almost 700 are injured in crashes every day. This is why organizations like Seniors Helping Seniors in Sussex County are stepping up to get the word out for Older Driver Safety Awareness Week from Dec. 6 – 10th.

There are simple ways seniors can help keep themselves and others stay safe when behind the wheel that can make all the difference when it comes to driving, according to Amy McDermott, Director and Owner of Seniors Helping Seniors in Long Neck, Delaware.

“Not driving after four in the afternoon, not driving during rush-hour,” McDermott told our Rob Petree. “As retirees, we don’t need to be in high traffic, stressful situations. So, I think we just need to evaluate what we need to use the car for and be smart about it.”

McDermott tells us  that, often times, one of the hardest things for a family to do is to get their older loved ones to put down the car keys permanently, but there is a way to go about it to help with what could be a very tense conversation.

“You can talk to them about money,” McDermott said. “They’ve worked hard for their money and their savings and they own the house, take pride in it, and think about how quickly they could lose everything in a car accident that’s totally their fault. They could lose everything that they’ve worked for.”

Some other ways of going about it could be hiring an occupational therapist to assess their driving skills through a safety driving program for seniors, or simply contacting the DMV and telling them of your concerns.

“They’ll do a driving test, a written test with them,” McDermott said of the safety driving program. “The bad news is that sometimes they pass even though they shouldn’t be driving.”

McDermott says it’s important that children and caregivers maintain good relationships with their older parents and seniors, and a good way to do that is finding someone else to be the bad guy when it comes time for them to put down the car keys.

“The occupational therapist becomes the bad guy in this situation,” McDermott said. “Don’t you become the bad guy because you have to live with Mom, you have to continue taking care of Dad, so my advice is to bring in an independent consultant.”

For additional information on how seniors can stay safe behind the wheel, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or contact Seniors Helping Seniors, Sussex County at 302-858-7330.

Categories: Delaware, Health, Local News, Maryland