Our Spartanburg injury lawyers know that senior citizens generally outlive their ability to drive safely by at least six years according to most studies. This means that at some point in the lives of most senior citizens, there comes a time when the keys need to be put down and the senior needs to stop driving.
Unfortunately, many seniors are unaware of exactly when they should give up on getting behind the wheel. Seniors may depend upon family members or upon doctors to have a discussion about driving safety but a recent study shows that clinicians are waiting too long to discuss senior driving risks.
Doctors Shouldn't Wait to Discuss Senior Driving
According to a small study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, clinicians and not elderly patients were often the first ones to start the conversation about safe senior driving. However, Nurse.com reported that healthcare providers tended to wait for "red flags" before bringing up the subject of senior driving dangers.
When doctors and healthcare providers did bring up the issue, they also reported that the conversations with the senior were usually unpleasant. For many seniors, driving is seen as a link to independence and freedom. A discussion about giving up that freedom is not well received, which may be why doctors tend to wait.
Despite the fact that seniors often do not like to discuss the risks of driving, however, researchers stress that it is very important for doctors to begin the discussion before red flags arise. Waiting for red flags, which can include an accident or serious health problems, could mean that the senior is driving for months or even years before the doctor notices a problem even though it really is no longer safe to drive. If a doctor waits for an accident to happen, then people could get hurt simply because someone drove for too long after his mental or physical health was impaired.
Instead of waiting until the doctor thinks the problem has become a serious one, researchers advise that clinicians and healthcare providers begin having conversations with seniors as soon as they turn 65. The same study showed that seniors don't mind regular questioning about driving, and these questions can give doctors some insight on when a senior might be beginning to struggle. Furthermore, asking questions of the senior and establishing a line of communication about driving dangers can make it easier to have the inevitable conversation when the time arises that driving no longer is safe.
This issue of talking to seniors about the dangers of driving beyond their prime has become a very urgent one. In the United States, there are 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every single day. The aging of the driving population could significantly increase the risk of accidents unless seniors stop driving before it becomes dangerous for them to do so. Doctors and other healthcare providers have an important role to play in making that happen.
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