July 1, 2018 started as a regular day for Sophie and Hans Ranglack. Like most Sundays, the couple, in their mid-90s, went to church and returned to their Utah home. But that Sunday morning, tragedy struck. According to news reports, Sophie exited the car to open the garage door, when Hans mistakenly hit the gas pedal and struck her. Sophie died at the scene. In an instant, their nearly 70-year marriage that produced six children was over.
Just a few days earlier in New York City, a 17-year old honor student was walking from a hair salon to her boyfriend’s house when she was struck and killed by 88-year-old driver Sheila Kahn Prager. It happened at a busy intersection. According to police Prager ignored a steady red light and struck teenager Madeline Shershen, hurling her body onto the hood and windshield of the car. She died a short time later.
Both of these tragedies happened to older drivers, who became confused behind the wheel. Could this happen to your parent? Do you have concerns about a loved ones’ driving abilities?
When it comes to driving, there are several resources related to senior care in South Florida and knowing when it’s time to hand over the keys. By the year 2030, one of every five drivers in America will be 65 years of age or older. Having the freedom to drive will continue to be an important factor to maintain personal independence.
Senior Care Involves Knowing When Driving is no Longer an Option
Normal aging, including issues with eyesight, hearing, and arthritis can affect driving. But there is not a set age when a driver is no longer safe. As you get older, your reflexes might slow, and you might not react as quickly as before.
It’s never easy to suggest to a parent or other senior driver in your life that they retire from driving altogether. AAA has resources to help initiate the conversation. Having these conversations are important, especially if you think a driver is not safe. According to AAA, here are two warning signs that a person is no longer safe to drive:
⦁ The senior driver receives two or traffic tickets or warning in the past two years. Traffic violations can predict a higher risk of collision.
⦁ The senior driver has had two or more collisions or “near-misses” in the past two years. Accidents including rear-end crashes, side collisions while turning, and parking lot crashes rank as the most common issues for drivers with decreasing skills and reaction times.
If you are concerned about your driving abilities, AAA has a survey you can take to determine if you pose a hazard to yourself and others.
You can also:
⦁ Have your driving skills checked by a trained professional like an occupational therapist.
⦁ Take a defensive driving course. Some car insurance companies may lower your bill when you pass this type of class. Organizations AAA, AARP, or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.
⦁ Avoid driving in bad weather. In South Florida, blue skies can turn stormy in a moment’s notice. When in doubt, don’t go out. If you must leave home, get a ride from a reliable driver or use transportation services.
⦁ There are events in South Florida to help older drivers address safety issues.
Talking with an older person about his or her driving should focus on safety, not the driver’s age. Advocare understands that talking about changes surrounding one’s independence is a part of senior care in South Florida. If you notice that a loved one is starting to slow down and needs additional assistance, Advocare can help. What sets us apart, is that our patient care coordinators are registered nurses with years of experience in handling the issues and challenges with our senior clients. We assess, advise, and advocate on your behalf. Call us today at (561) 266-3489 to see how we can help.