The aging process is never easy–for the senior or their family. Thoughts of mortality aside, the challenge of dealing with the day to day vulnerabilities of elderly friends and family is something that is impossible to fully appreciate until you experience it first-hand. From figuring out how to get groceries, doing to the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and countless other tasks, seniors who are facing physical and mental decline connected to their age have a myriad of daily struggles.
One of the most acute challenges faced by aging New Yorkers relates to driving. It is easy to forget how much one relies on driving until the privilege is taken away. Considering the importance of driving, it is little wonder than most seniors do everything they can to keep their traveling options open, even when their frailties make it unsafe. Friends and family members of New York seniors must be prudent about monitoring this risk and stepping in when necessary.
Senior Driving Fact Sheet
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled a fact sheet that highlights the problems faced by senior driving. It also offers some helpful tips that are worth perusing to help curb the problem.
Notably, federal data suggests that there are around 33 million daily drivers over the age of 65–this represents a nearly 25% increase over the last decade. This rise is alarming considering that the risk of being injured in an auto accident increases as one ages. As it now stands every single day around 15 seniors are killed and another 500 injured in car accidents. These are not inconsequential figures but instead represent an alarming problem that should be on the radar of all New York families with a senior driver.
Those examining the problem argue that these dangers are caused by two factors. First, seniors are slightly more likely to get into an accident in the first place as a result of vision problem, cognitive decline, and other vulnerabilities which general driving ability. Second, the elderly have weaker recovery systems and physical ailments which make it more likely that their body will be harmed even in relatively minor accidents.
To help, federal official urge seniors to have regular vision check-ups, work to ensure adequate physical strength, and attempt to travel only in the safest conditions. In addition, seniors should be particularly vigilant about basic habits like seat belt use, safe distance between vehicles, and more.
Our New York elder law attorneys urge all families to be aware of these driving risks–particularly in light of the added danger of winter driving in the next few months.