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Is mom a safe driver?

7 December 2016 / by / no comments

Is mom a safe driver?

Use your trip home for the hol­i­days to deter­mine if your mom or dad is a safe driver.

Going home for the hol­i­days has lay­ers of sig­nif­i­cance for adult chil­dren, par­tic­u­larly those who live out of town. It remains a time of togeth­er­ness and thank­ful­ness, but it’s also an oppor­tu­nity to observe your age­ing fam­ily mem­bers to deter­mine if their phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive skills are still suf­fi­cient for safe driving.

Fol­low­ing are three tips to help you gauge your loved one’s dri­ving abil­i­ties on your next trip home:

[cap­tion id=“attachment_8258” align=“alignleft” width=“374”]fall A his­tory of fre­quent falling can serve as a valid indi­ca­tor in iden­ti­fy­ing older dri­vers that are at a higher risk for future traf­fic accidents.[/caption]

1) Has your par­ent fallen in the past year? – Recent research has estab­lished a def­i­nite cor­re­la­tion between falls and older dri­ver crash involvement. According to an arti­cle pub­lished by the “Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety”, older adults that have fallen two or more times in the pre­vi­ous year may be at a higher risk of being involved in an at-​fault car crash.

The study, con­ducted by the Depart­ment of Oph­thal­mol­ogy, School of Med­i­cine, and the School of Pub­lic Health at the Uni­ver­sity of Alabama at Birm­ing­ham, US, also reported that older dri­vers who fell two or more times in the prior year were 1.5 times as likely to be involved in an acci­dent and two times as likely to be involved in an at-​fault accident.

The study’s bot­tom line – a his­tory of fre­quent falling can serve as a valid indi­ca­tor in iden­ti­fy­ing older dri­vers that are at a higher risk for future traf­fic acci­dents. That’s pretty significant!

[cap­tion id=“attachment_8259” align=“alignright” width=“394”]Exercise Exer­cise can help to improve an older driver’s flex­i­bil­ity, coor­di­na­tion, strength, bal­ance and range of motion.[/caption]

2) Are your par­ents phys­i­cally active? – Exer­cise can help improve an older driver’s flex­i­bil­ity, coor­di­na­tion, strength, bal­ance and range of motion. Simple stretch­ing exer­cises can help an older dri­ver look left or right more eas­ily to check their blind spots, or to help ensure a safe lane change. Exer­cise can also help an older dri­ver turn their neck and body to look behind them before backing. How many tragedies have we read about where an older dri­ver backed over a pedes­trian in a park­ing lot or in some cases, a fam­ily mem­ber in their own driveway?

A 2014 study by The Hart­ford Cen­ter for Mature Mar­ket Excel­lence and the M.I.T. Age Lab, both in the US, looked at the dri­vers who exer­cised for 15 to 20 min­utes daily. The study par­tic­i­pants reported greater ease in turn­ing their heads to look in blind spots when chang­ing lanes or back­ing up, com­pared with a sim­i­lar group that did not exer­cise. The exer­cise group could also rotate their bod­ies eas­ily to scan the road when mak­ing right-​hand turns com­pared with non-​exercisers. The US’ National Insti­tutes of Health (NIH) Senior Health web­site offers spe­cific exer­cises on improv­ing endurance, strength, flex­i­bil­ity and balance.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_8260” align=“alignleft” width=“256”]Memory A sig­nif­i­cant decline in mem­ory can lead to dis­as­ter if we con­tinue to drive with­out first mak­ing appro­pri­ate adjust­ments in our dri­ving behav­iour and habits.[/caption]

3) How is your loved one’s mem­ory hold­ing up? – In the fam­ily set­ting, the issue sur­round­ing the impor­tant role mem­ory plays in older dri­ver safety is often under­stated or even over­looked all together. For obvi­ous rea­sons, when we dis­cuss age-​related dimin­ished dri­ving skills in older adults, we tend to focus on the phys­i­cal attrib­utes of safe dri­ving (vision, reflexes, strength, flex­i­bil­ity, hear­ing, etc), and may over­look the cru­cial role mem­ory plays in keep­ing older dri­vers safe.

For any one of us, a sig­nif­i­cant decline in our mem­ory can lead to dis­as­ter if we con­tinue to drive with­out first mak­ing appro­pri­ate adjust­ments in our dri­ving behav­iour and habits. Continuing to drive while ignor­ing notice­able mem­ory decline can lead to tragedy, either through a car acci­dent, or by unknow­ingly becom­ing an excel­lent can­di­date for a vic­tim of crime.

Older dri­vers that get lost may become con­fused and dis­tracted by their unnerv­ing circumstances. As they find them­selves unaware of their sur­round­ings, they are likely to develop a strong case of tun­nel vision. The older dri­ver may morph into a state of con­fu­sion, frus­tra­tion and fear. They lose their abil­ity to focus on the task at hand (the phys­i­cal act of dri­ving) and instead, con­cen­trate on get­ting them­selves back to famil­iar surroundings.

The older driver’s abil­ity to focus on dri­ving has been over­whelmed by their desire to re-​orient themselves. In many cases, the indi­vid­ual may become scared and often times, tragedy becomes imminent.

So, use your trip home this hol­i­day sea­son as a time to enjoy fam­ily and to give thanks for all that we have and have had. Use it to re-​unite with fam­ily and friends and to kick-​off the hol­i­day sea­son, but also, take just a few min­utes to make sure your par­ents’ phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive skills are still con­ducive to safe driving.

(This arti­cle been writ­ten by Keep­ing Us Safe, an organ­i­sa­tion in the US that pro­vides prac­ti­cal, real-​life solu­tions to older dri­vers and their fam­i­lies, and has been reprinted with permission.)

(** PHOTO CRED­ITS: Keep­ing Us Safe)



Use your trip home for the holidays to determine if your mom or dad is a safe driver.

 

Going home for the holidays has layers of significance for adult children, particularly those who live out of town. It remains a time of togetherness and thankfulness, but it’s also an opportunity to observe your ageing family members to determine if their physical and cognitive skills are still sufficient for safe driving.

Following are three tips to help you gauge your loved one’s driving abilities on your next trip home:

fall

A history of frequent falling can serve as a valid indicator in identifying older drivers that are at a higher risk for future traffic accidents.

1) Has your parent fallen in the past year? – Recent research has established a definite correlation between falls and older driver crash involvement. According to an article published by the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society”, older adults that have fallen two or more times in the previous year may be at a higher risk of being involved in an at-fault car crash.

The study, conducted by the Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, and the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, US, also reported that older drivers who fell two or more times in the prior year were 1.5 times as likely to be involved in an accident and two times as likely to be involved in an at-fault accident.

The study’s bottom line – a history of frequent falling can serve as a valid indicator in identifying older drivers that are at a higher risk for future traffic accidents. That’s pretty significant!

Exercise

Exercise can help to improve an older driver’s flexibility, coordination, strength, balance and range of motion.

2) Are your parents physically active? – Exercise can help improve an older driver’s flexibility, coordination, strength, balance and range of motion. Simple stretching exercises can help an older driver look left or right more easily to check their blind spots, or to help ensure a safe lane change. Exercise can also help an older driver turn their neck and body to look behind them before backing. How many tragedies have we read about where an older driver backed over a pedestrian in a parking lot or in some cases, a family member in their own driveway?

A 2014 study by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the M.I.T. Age Lab, both in the US, looked at the drivers who exercised for 15 to 20 minutes daily. The study participants reported greater ease in turning their heads to look in blind spots when changing lanes or backing up, compared with a similar group that did not exercise. The exercise group could also rotate their bodies easily to scan the road when making right-hand turns compared with non-exercisers. The US’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) Senior Health website offers specific exercises on improving endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.

Memory

A significant decline in memory can lead to disaster if we continue to drive without first making appropriate adjustments in our driving behaviour and habits.

3) How is your loved one’s memory holding up? – In the family setting, the issue surrounding the important role memory plays in older driver safety is often understated or even overlooked all together. For obvious reasons, when we discuss age-related diminished driving skills in older adults, we tend to focus on the physical attributes of safe driving (vision, reflexes, strength, flexibility, hearing, etc), and may overlook the crucial role memory plays in keeping older drivers safe.

For any one of us, a significant decline in our memory can lead to disaster if we continue to drive without first making appropriate adjustments in our driving behaviour and habits. Continuing to drive while ignoring noticeable memory decline can lead to tragedy, either through a car accident, or by unknowingly becoming an excellent candidate for a victim of crime.

Older drivers that get lost may become confused and distracted by their unnerving circumstances. As they find themselves unaware of their surroundings, they are likely to develop a strong case of tunnel vision. The older driver may morph into a state of confusion, frustration and fear. They lose their ability to focus on the task at hand (the physical act of driving) and instead, concentrate on getting themselves back to familiar surroundings.

The older driver’s ability to focus on driving has been overwhelmed by their desire to re-orient themselves. In many cases, the individual may become scared and often times, tragedy becomes imminent.

So, use your trip home this holiday season as a time to enjoy family and to give thanks for all that we have and have had. Use it to re-unite with family and friends and to kick-off the holiday season, but also, take just a few minutes to make sure your parents’ physical and cognitive skills are still conducive to safe driving.

 

(This article been written by Keeping Us Safe, an organisation in the US that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families, and has been reprinted with permission.)

(** PHOTO CREDITS: Keeping Us Safe)


 

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