How to keep your elderly parents independent and on the road

As most people, I think I believed my parents to be infallible when I was younger. They could do any task, and they would continue doing it forever.

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  • I now know this because I am an adult and see my parents getting older and retired.
  • Mobility is the key to staying healthy for parents who are aging.

The big challenge is to keep them active and independent. Because I have seen how elderly people fall apart quickly after they are unable to move anymore, I worry. They lose hope and give up. They stop living while they’re still alive.

Seniors will live longer and more fulfilled lives if they are able to get involved in activities. My mom loves volunteering and I don’t know what she will do if she is unable to.

Driving is a key to independence. However, it can be costly. It’s expensive to own a car, with fuel costs, maintenance and insurance. My parents should do a comparison on motor vehicle insurance. There are insurance companies that offer senior discounts. My parents were able to find these discounts and confirm they had the correct coverage limits by doing a comparison.

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Help parents recognize that a change in driving status is inevitable

I have already informed my mom that if she doesn’t feel confident driving, I would happily drive her to all her appointments. She knows how important it is for her to be able get around, so I was able to see her face when I offered my assistance. Part appreciation, part horror. She knows that losing her independence will be a huge shock and a great loss. It is very difficult to cope with the loss of independence.

I believe it is important that everyone talks to their parents about what happens if they lose their driving ability. This is mainly because many of us have never considered this possibility. For example, my Dad will be less worried about losing his driving ability than my Mom. His life will be complete as long as Dad is able to get out on the golf course with his friends. My parents have only one car. Dad is essentially chauffeured now.

Talking about the possibility of losing your driving privileges and creating a plan to address it is a great way to have healthy conversations about driving. It is possible that you will find your parents are willing to help you get around.

Provide the right safety measures for older drivers

A while back, I made sure that my parents’ car had the correct safety features. I made sure my parents took it in for regular maintenance. I checked their spare tire and made sure their car insurance covered roadside assistance. I also included an emergency kit in their trunk.

Older people are at greater risk of serious illness or death if they become stranded. They will need water, heat and other necessities to survive the unexpected. These are some of the items I added to their trunk.

  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Water
  • A flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Packs of freeze-dried food

My parents were also forced to enter the 21st Century and purchase a cell phone. My mom used to joke with me about how they had only one phone in the kitchen when she was her age and didn’t have one. They should always be able to reach us or the authorities in an emergency. My mom now carries her cell phone, but she can’t text or retrieve her voicemail.

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Safety measures for older drivers include:

Make sure they are familiar with the bus schedules and how it operates. A bus ride might be more appealing to an elderly driver who doesn’t want to drive in heavy traffic or drive in the evenings. It is worth getting a bus pass as well as a working knowledge about the system.

Make sure that the driver’s seat is adjusted correctly. Most people don’t know that the steering wheel can be adjusted. Even if your older driver is able to adjust the seat and steering wheel, it might not be enough for them to use the levers. Ask them to adjust the car correctly and ensure that anyone borrowing it does so.

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Many older drivers find it difficult to drive at night due to the fact that our night vision decreases with age. You can upgrade the headlight bulbs of your loved older driver if they have trouble seeing at night. There are many after-market light bulbs that offer better performance. You can find a variety of after-market brands at most auto parts stores.