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Senior, Santa Monica, Driving

Putting The Brakes On Elderly Driving

Posted May. 2, 2012, 1:01 am

Mirror Staff

A rash of recent, fatal car crashes with senior citizens driving has brought attention to a graying population packing our roadways. By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be 65 or older and at least 90 percent of them will be licensed to drive. That’s why Senior Helpers, one of the largest in-home senior care companies with offices in Los Angeles, wants to raise awareness during April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – by giving families a Senior Helpers Safe Driving Checklist.

“When elders can no longer drive, they may start to feel trapped and out of control of their lives,” says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers. “We encourage families to monitor their elderly loved ones with our Senior Helpers Safe Driving Checklist. If they notice problems, they can hire a caregiver to drive their loved one. The caregiver is not only the driver but also an extra set of eyes and ears at doctor’s appointments or grocery store visits. Plus, caregivers are great companions who keep seniors social and active.”

If your elderly loved one insists on driving follow The Senior Helpers Driving Checklist:

• Check medications. They can impair driving by making seniors drowsier or more distracted than usual. Recent studies show the average person over the age of 65 takes between two and seven medications a day! Seniors should avoid driving for a few days once they begin a new medication, so they know how the drug affects them. Be sure they consult their physician and pharmacist before starting a new medication, to see if it will affect their ability to drive.

• Have eyes checked. Eyes change with age. Seniors’ peripheral vision narrows, they are less sensitive to light and their eyes lose the ability to focus quickly. Research shows 85 percent of driving is visual and 15 percent is skill. A 60-year-old driver requires 10 times as much light to see as a 19-year-old

• Be aware of sleep issues. About 37 million older Americans suffer from frequent sleep problems. The drowsier behind the wheel, the slower the reflexes

• Reflex and awareness. This can be especially risky if getting behind the wheel of a car. Statistics reveal that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections.

• Check vehicle for signs of damage when he/she is not with you. This can be a good indicator about their ability to drive.

“Driving tests can miss the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s that affect judgment, understanding and memory which can cause accidents on the road,” says Ross. “If it’s time to take the keys away, adult children should reassure their elderly parents they can still see friends and be involved in activities even if they can’t drive. If you hire a caregiver as a driver, it can ease some of the tension when you take the keys away from Mom or Dad.”

Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility.

The company has nearly 300 franchises in 40 states and one Canadian province offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families.

Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, visit

Post a comment


May. 2, 2012, 5:59:02 pm

Matt Gurwell said...

Keeping Us Safe now has Certified "Beyond Driving with Dignity" Professionals trained and deployed throughout the country. If you are concerned about an elderly loved one's safe driving ability, please contact us at 877-907-8841 and we will connect you with the closest "Beyond Driving with Dignity" Professional. We also offer a workbook titled "Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for the families of older drivers". Visit our website at to learn more about our programs and about how to become a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional.

May. 3, 2012, 7:31:15 am

Dale Bell said...

WE at the Media Policy Center in SM have produced a half hour film, hosted by Jerry Mathers. Called GETTING AROUND, it was motivated by the SM Farmer's Market crash and could be broadcast on the SM cable channel.

May. 3, 2012, 7:27:45 pm

Bob Abernethy said...

First of all, thanks for posting an article about a program designed to take advantage of April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in MAY! Next, please understand that many of the so-called senior driving problems are in actuality not senior fault situations. Mr. Weller's case was certainly his fault. However, another tragedy in which the senior driver was excoriated was, in actuality, a case of someone who should have known better running into traffic. A recent celebrity involved case could very well have been the fault of the jogger rather than the senior. While caution is always the best policy, it has been demonstrated time and time again that senior drivers are among the safest on the road. One need only look at insurance premiums for confirmation of that fact. Still, all of the concerns noted are valid. However, they are no more valid than are concerns over distracted driving, which is the single greatest cause of accidents - just ask any SMPD officer or California Highway Patrol officer if you won't take the word of this insurance adjuster

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