This month my mom will be 88 years old. And sitting in the garage of her condo where she lives alone is her huge 2000 Cadillac in mint condition with only 50,000 miles on it.
“Mom,” I said, “how much are you driving your car?”
“I only drive to the grocery store.” Then silence. “And to the post office to mail you cookies, the ones you love.” More silence.
If you have older parents who still drive, you know that’s when it gets awkward. When you wonder, “Is this the right time to step in?” We want our parents to remain independent. But we also want them, and the people around them, to be safe.
As an article in the August issue of Psychiatric Times pointed out, there are 22 million older adults (78 percent) still driving with a valid driver’s license. And with 79.6 million baby boomers out there, those numbers are going to keep increasing.
We all know that with age, we react slower, see less well, and find it more challenging to multitask. Throw in the possibility of mild dementia and Parkinson’s disease and it’s not surprising that drivers older than 80 have the highest rate of accidents of every other group – except teenagers. So like many of you, I’ve got to deal with the car keys of both groups because I have a teenage son. But that’s another blog.
Now I’m not saying that every individual over a certain age should stop driving. Many are excellent drivers. But there are no standardized national guidelines for what constitutes a “dangerous” driver.
Next: Safety tips and helpful ways to assess your parent