Monday, December 31, 2007

When kiddies take the T-Bird away


…HA is in the sandwich generation big time, clamped between a still-at-home 20-something and half-responsibility for taking care of her mother (shared with her sister).

…HA’s mom never drove. And HA herself also does not drive. But she has many friends who are facing their parents’ scary driving years and wondering what will happen.

…Sooner or later, most of us need to extract head from sand and face the fact that people cannot drive safely into their 80s, 90s, and as one TV commercial ridiculously shows, 100-pluses.

…Recently, AARP took on these issues in its AARP Bulletin (Nov 2007) in a story by Reed Karaim. HA has written about this for WebMD, also.

…Reflexes slow as one ages, attention wanders, even the physical ability to hold onto the wheel can be compromised by arthritis and other ailments or meds. You need a flexible neck, strong arms and hands, and a sharp mind. Even decades of experience cannot compensate for the lack of these.

…Car design can help some—better mirror placement, driver seat positioning (at least 3 inches over the steering wheel, even if the person has shrunk), and reliable seatbelts are examples.

…If your parent has had some fender benders and is vague on them or you have noticed some other sign of faltering ability, AARP offers refresher driving courses (www.aarp.org/drive). Also check out CarFit at www.asaging.org/asav2/carfit.

….You also may be able to find a physical therapist specializing in driver fitness at www.aota.org/olderdriver.

…If you think your parent will freak out if the subject of turning over the car keys is raised, have their doctor broach it.

…Some states require retesting more frequently as people get older. See what help is available there.

….And do some research on Ride On buses, cabs, shuttles, drivers from health insurance plans, and other resources that could fill the gap for your parent.

…But recognize, that for people used to their independence, this is a huge transition. Expect a lot of discussion.

…Or more accurately, in some cases, shouting.

…And guess who is doing more chauffeuring.

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