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Young woman in a car driving with an elderly man in the back seat.

Driver Safety for Aging Adults

How to talk about driver safety with aging adults.

By Clover Health

There’s no specific age to stop driving. In fact, driving is a great way for older adults to stay independent and socially active. 

Still, aging does bring new challenges and risks to driving. For example, arthritis can make it hard to turn our heads fully. Memory issues may cause local neighborhoods to feel unfamiliar. 

Numbness in our feet or knee problems could slow braking time. Vision or hearing loss and slower reaction time are other risk factors. 

Start the conversation long before you see serious warning signs. Let your loved one ease into the idea instead of abruptly deciding it’s time to take away the car keys. 

Assess and Adapt 

“Focus on objective signs, rather than opinions,” says Kumar Dharmarajan, MD, MBA, cardiologist, geriatrician, and Associate Chief Medical Officer at Clover Health. 

Suggest a driving test and vision test. Look into driver rehabilitation programs, which assess the driving skills of older adults and help people with age-related impairments stay safe on the road. 

A driver rehab specialist can suggest ways to adapt the vehicle or tips for working around limitations. 

Having a hard time raising the subject? Dr. Dharmarajan suggests you ask the person’s doctor to start the conversation.

Arrange for Driving Options 

Dr. Dharmarajan also recommends offering support and options once your loved one gives up driving. “When people can’t drive themselves around, they can feel isolated. They may be cut off from friends and interests— as well as common activities like going to the grocery store. Offer to arrange a driving service or connect them with neighbors who can give them a lift.” 

In some cities, public transportation is a safe and affordable option for seniors. 

Most importantly, make certain your loved one can still enjoy their favorite activities and be with friends! 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2022 issue of Clover Living magazine. Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to Clover Living magazine for free (if you aren’t already subscribed) here.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan

Published on 8/17/22

Photo credit: Getty