Home Instead offering program to assist senior drivers
Published 11:19 pm Friday, June 24, 2016
Home Instead Senior Care is ready to talk about driving with area families.
With the group’s “Let’s Talk About Driving” underway, Hannah Sick, community service representative, said the organization is in the business of serving citizens.
“At Home Instead Senior Care, we serve hundreds of thousands of seniors and their families,” Sick said. “Everything from companionship care, to taking a senior to a doctor’s visit or grocery shopping, to dementia care. They’ve noticed mom or dad has a new dent in their care or has been hesitating to drive and they know they need to take action.”
The program coincides with the National Safety Council’s National Safety Month through the remainder of June.
Each week provided different initiatives including “Stand Ready to Respond”, “Be Healthy”, “Watch Out for Dangers”, and this week’s “Share Roads Safely”.
With the week of June 27 starting up “Share Roads Safely”, the program started by Home Instead is about helping family members talk with older loved ones about driving.
“In a survey conducted by Home Instead, we have found that families are actively avoiding the critical conversations about their older loved ones driving,” Sick said. “In fact, 95 percent of families surveyed have not had these conversations.
“What’s interesting is that we all understand the importance of having ‘the talk’ about safe driving with teens, but we don’t have that same conversations with our aging parents.”
Sick added the solution lies in that fact that families need to create a roadmap with their senior loved ones when it comes to driving.
“The importance of having the “Let’s Talk About Driving” program in the Tri-Cities and beyond is safety for our aging loved ones while still allowing them to maintain their independence as long as possible,” she said. “We know that many seniors can, and do, continue to drive safely. Four out of ten seniors drive at least once, if not multiple times, per day. If a senior loved one’s driving is becoming a safety concern, there are many proactive steps that can allow a senior to continue to drive safely versus abruptly stopping.”
The representative added there are 10 warning signs that says may be unsafe on the road, including: mysterious dents, trouble turning to see when backing up, confusing the gas and brake pedals, increased irritation and agitation about driving, bad calls of left-hand turns, parking gone awry, difficulty staying within the lanes, delayed reaction and response time, driving the wrong speed and riding the brake.
According to Sick, there are also certain medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and certain medication usage that can make driving less safe for seniors.
While unsafe, the program isn’t meant to ask senior citizens to stop driving immediately
“These signs and diseases do not mean that the privilege of driving must be taken away right away … technology is amazing,” Sick said. “Solutions can be found in spending a few hundred dollars to add some additional senior-friendly safety options to a car to improve visibility or accessibility. Smart headlights, emergency response systems, blind spot warning systems, assistive parking systems, and drowsy drivers alerts are all viable options. It is important to remember though that these systems are meant to assist and will not compensate for lack of driving ability and that there is still room for error or technology failure.
The program started up by Home Instead owners, George and Sandra Smith and Rick Regen, it an item meant to help the community, Sick said, and it is an initiative that has the full support of the staff with the center.
“My job has been such a blessing and has made me realize the importance of safe driving for all, especially our seniors,” she added. “My greatest tip for families is to have conversations sooner rather than later, keep the conversation positive, look for solutions that will allow a senior to continue driving and if driving does need to cease – be sure to have a plan for a senior to complete all their necessary travel. We are happy to assist seniors and their families with their transportation needs, including errands, doctors’ appointments and outings.”
The center has various locations throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The closest centers to citizens in Carter County are in Johnson City and Bristol.
Sick added that Home Instead has various resources available, including letstalkaboutdriving.com that offers free tips and resources to help senior citizens stay on the road.
“We’re always happy to help where we can,” Sick added.
For more information, visit the site or call 423-926-4141