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FREEDOM CAUTIONS FOR THE SANDWICH GENERATION
It's important to remember that just because we HAVE the freedom to do something, doesn't make it RIGHT. And, as hard as it may be, our senior parents need to consider that as well. And it's NOT easy, is it! Not for them! Not for us! Not for ANYONE! And sadly, someday, hopefully not too soon, it will be us, when we reach the stage of being elderly senior citizens, dealing with this very same issue with our own kids.
EARLY PREPARATION BY SENIOR PARENTS CAN BE A BIG HELP
I was blessed that, because my parents had a tough time with some of these issues with their own aging parents, they prepared themselves mentally for this season of life. It didn't always make it TOTALLY easier, BUT it did make it a LOT easier. They made their living will, their power of attorney, their regular will. But driving wasn't something they'd really thought about. So my aging dad did have to spend more time thinking it through than I might have preferred. However, he finally come to the right decision safely, with a clean record. And for that, I am so grateful. And yes, I'm already making notes to myself in my head to be agreeable to stopping driving when it is no longer safe to do so. BUT! How do we decide that?
In my senior dad's case, he was entering the beginning of end stage Parkinsons Disease, with several distinct signals, including a lot more freezing, and a noticeable change in his gait. I also saw him slowing down considerably in his responses to various things and that his ability to turn to check for traffic was starting to be impacted. But it's not always that easy. AND it's not always necessary to stop – maybe they just need some extra training.
SOMETIMES DECIDING NO MORE ELDERLY DRIVING ISN'T SO OBVIOUS!
Here are more great resources to help all of us in the Sandwich Generation as well as our elderly parents, starting with:
- Denise Brown at Caregiving.com. Denise has several great articles full of terrific information and resources including: We Need to Talk, She Shouldn't Be Driving, We're Reluctant But They're Willing, and It's Older Driver Safety Awareness Week: Take Time for the Talk.
Last week, I wrote about AAA, my own personal roadside heroes with their great roadside assistance plan clubs (which, by the way, are an excellent resource for senior parents in case they ARE out driving and have car problems! As valuable as their cell phones for senior citizens) and their senior drivers educational site.
- AARP also has a great looking, online driver safety course. The prices vary, depending on where you live, but all are under $24 for AARP members (under $30 if you are not a member), and again, depending on your state, completing the course may qualify you for "an automobile insurance discount given by your insurance company. In some states separate rules may apply to online driver improvement courses. Contact your insurance agent for more details."
- While you are there, be sure to check out their excellent checklist of warning signs to watch for that you can use to help you decide how your senior parents are doing, along with several other useful and informative articles on the topic of elderly drivers.
- For those of us with senior parents living long distances from us, EldercareABC has a couple of excellent suggestions specific to driving assessments in their article, Visiting Elderly Parents for the Holidays? – 6 Safety Signs to Watch For
- Another excellent resource I appreciate, Seniors For living, has written several articles on this topic, including Study Shows Older Drivers Make Mistakes.