Seniors and Driving: Wishing to Drive Ms. Daisy

"How do I get them to stop driving?"  This is a question I was often asked by adult children when the Senior Home Care Agency I owned started caregiving services.

And there is no easy way to go down this road.

Even when a senior knows they shouldn't be driving anymore, due to a decline in their physical or mental capabilites, it is still difficult to actually make the transition.  Ending driving advertises to the world that you can no longer do everything you could do.  That is tough.

Many age-related diseases advance slowly, such as Macular Degeneration, Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease.  Sometimes it is only because an accident happens that an illness is discovered.  At the same time, if these diseases can be diagnosed early, the progression can often be slowed with proper medication and physical therapy.

My own Grandma Martha has Macular Degeneration and can no longer safely see well enough to drive at night.  I think with all the other challenges of aging, it really stinks to lose your vision (lutein is the vitamin supplement recommended for macular health if you are trying to prevent this one from happening to you).

So, definitely make sure the doctor checks for Macular Degeneration if vision loss begins to decline for a senior.

Many states have tried to pass laws to help manage the challenges of driving safety for seniors.  The Federal Highway Administration reports that drivers age 70 and older experience more motor vehicle fatalities than any other driving group, with the exception of drivers under age 20.

Caregiverlist provides you with the driving laws by state - many states require vision tests more frequently after a certain age and some states do require an in-person driving test at a certain age.  A few states also allow you to request a special driving test if you feel someone at any age is an unsafe driver (this is a way to get around the age discrimination issues).

And my best answer to the question of how to get Mom and Dad to stop driving is to say it is a luxury to have someone else drive you around - that is what the movie stars and CEO's have - a car and driver. And now they have earned the right to have this same luxury.

I would prefer a car and driver over a luxury vehicle right now, if I had that option, but in the meantime, a taxi cab does just fine! , ,

Gas: The New Affordable Luxury

"How much did you have to pay for gas?” is always the first question my Grandma Martha asks when I visit her.

I have always quickly changed the subject, having the attitude that there is no choice but to pay the price being charged.  And, since there are now taxes tacked on to gas, it is not possible to make a fair comparison to the prices she has paid over the last 70 years (Grandma Martha is 92 and still drives her car – she just passed her driver’s license renewal exam in April).

The thinking has always been that no matter how much money you make, there are certain little things you will always have enough extra money to buy – a candy bar or a cup of coffee at Starbucks, for instance.  Those are little luxuries we can all afford.

Gas, to fill the tank of your car, on the other hand, has always been a necessity. You pay your rent, you pay your utility bills and you fill your gas tank.

As the price of gas has doubled over the last four years, pay rates have not had the same increase.  This means the extra money that was spent on affordable luxuries is now needed to pay for gas.

Caregivers typically earn around $9.00 per hour. At 40 hours a week, this averages to $1,440.00 per month, before taxes are deducted.  This is something to remember when considering the cost for caregiving services. If driving is required, reimbursement for gas is necessary. In addition, if the location of the assignment requires excessive driving, reimbursement for mileage may be necessary to maintain a quality Caregiver.

The government reimbursement rate for mileage in 2008 is: 50.5 cents per mile. This is the reimbursement rate which the government estimates as adequate to cover all the costs of driving, from insurance to repairs to gasoline.

You can also research the best price for gas in your area.

And, if you are looking for a way to reward your Caregiver for a job well done, remember that any affordable luxury will be appreciated.


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