For many years there has been a dichotomy among experts about what is better for seniors: to quit driving and risk losing independence or to surrender their ability to do things alone while decreasing real potential risks. One of the problems is that this issue is not even brought to the table, by loved ones. When it comes to discussing the risks of potentially dangerous driving with teenagers family members have much less of an issue but somehow the topic with elderly is pushed under the proverbial carpet.
Now though, thanks to an initiative launched by Home Instead Senior Care network called Let’s Talk about DrivingSM it is hoped that this issue will be brought to the surface. It can be accessed here and provides free resources and tips to assist families in the building of “a roadmap, together with their senior loved one, for limiting or stopping driving when the time is right.” There is a Safe Driving Planner which is a good way for families to examine driving habits and also provide the means for the elderly to drive more safely, contemplate other choices or a reduction in the amount they drive.
Another approach being offered to combat this independence versus risk-potential predicament is being offered by Valley Senior Services. The Metro Senior Ride Service enables 60+ year olds to go anywhere they want in Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead and Dilworth for a very affordable price. At a $6 round-trip for those going to doctors and back or out to the mall, but don’t want the stress of driving, it really is a great option. It is available for those people who are able to easily get in and out of a vehicle, unaided.
And then there is the work being done by Toyota engineers who have already created an R2-D2-like robot for the elderly, infirm and the wheelchair-bound by picking up and carrying objects. They have sensors in cars to help braking capacity or send the drive a warning before a possible crash as well as self-driving cars into parking spots or on certain roads. Their next hope is that the $1 billion investment they have made through their Silicon Valley research plant will make cars safe enough to be self-driving.
So ultimately the conversation with the elderly about when it’s time to quit driving must be had. But clearly with new resources, research in the work and a variety of services being offered in various states, the loss of independence does not have to follow suit.