One of the hot topics of today is driving as we get older. Some of us may be able to safely drive well into our 60s, 70s and beyond while others may have physical or mental difficulties that impede our driving ability. How do you know when it’s time to give up the keys? What can we do to make sure we stay safe behind the wheel? Here are a few ideas to consider as you or a loved one get older.
The good thing about being alive in 2020 is that there is always an app or technology that can help you. As we age, we need to be mindful of our physical limitations and make sure that we are adequately using the resources that are available to us. This is especially true when it comes to driving. As much as we love our independence, we should also stop and consider the other options should our driving days be numbered.
First, we need to make sure that we are maintaining and monitoring our eye health. Almost 95% of all sensing clues while driving will come through your eyes, which tend to weaken as you age. Vision is one of the most important aspects to driving, and if your vision is faltering, it’s time to get an eye exam done. If you are repeatedly hitting curbs or not seeing road signs or lights, then it may be time to hang up the keys. This doesn’t mean that you will be housebound though! Again, technology comes to the rescue with the following options:
- Home-based medical care. We are living in an age where telehealth, medical consultations, and prescriptions are available over the phone, Internet, or through mail order. Telehealth is healthcare that is provided via video and electronic communication. This allows you to receive proper medical care without ever leaving your home. Most insurance plans can now provide some aspects of telehealth to their customers, including mental health, preventative services, and even fitness/wellness coaching.
- Home delivery services. In the last five years, home delivery services have exploded. We now have Uber, Uber Eats, Lyft, Door Dash, and Instacart to name a few. These are services that provide you with local rides, meal delivery, grocery delivery, and even prescription delivery for a small fee. Uber or Lyft can get you to a doctor’s appointment and Uber Eats or Door Dash can bring you meals from a variety of restaurants. Instacart and Amazon Fresh can even bring groceries and anything else you need right to your front door. With these kinds of services, no one really needs a car anymore.
- Staying connected through technology. The internet, in general, has been greatly beneficial to many people when it comes to keeping in touch. In addition to the previous services mentioned, seniors can now contact family, friends, and loved ones through various kinds of technology. Smartphones, Skype, FaceTime, and the like allow you to talk or visit face to face without leaving your living room. Texting is an easy way to check-in with others. Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram also give you a way to stay connected with others and the world at large.
What if you aren’t ready to give up the keys? Smart car technologies such as backup cameras, blind spot warnings, GPS navigation, antilock brakes, and other innovations are designed to keep us all safer on the road. A lot of these options are now becoming standard features on new cars so that we can all be safer as we drive. Another great option for seniors is an in-car life alert system, which is a real-time emergency alert button that contains a GPS locator and a crash detector. And already the first-ever medical alert device designed specifically for vehicles has hit the market. It plugs into a 12V outlet and is equipped with a sensor that detects a crash and immediately notifies and dispatches emergency responders to the exact location. (For reviews of the best medical alert systems, check out the medical alert system reviews here.) These and other technological advances are sure to keep everyone safer while driving.
If you can safely get around in a vehicle, you shouldn’t have to give up driving. It may be a good idea to check out the online Self-Rating Tool that is provided by the Senior Driving division of AAA – this tool can help you evaluate your own driving skills at any time. This and many other automobile enhancements and technology devices are specifically designed to keep drivers safe at any age.