Senior Helpers and Experts Propose New Solution After Rash of Senior Citizen Car Crashes

Families encouraged to try alternative method to stop seniors from driving.

Holly Springs, NC, July 23, 2009 --( It’s an agonizing decision to take away the car keys and apply the brakes to an elderly loved one’s driving, especially in a culture where driving symbolizes freedom. But an increase in the number of car crashes involving senior citizen drivers this summer has the experts at Senior Helpers urging families to watch for signs their elderly loved ones can no longer drive and hire a caregiver to drive for them.

“You can take away the car keys, disable a car or have police confiscate a person’s driver’s license but that can create hard feelings,” says Peter Ross, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Senior Helpers, the fastest growing provider of in-home care for seniors. “We encourage families to hire a caregiver to drive their loved ones around and help with daily tasks. The caregiver is not only the driver but can be at extra set of eyes and ears at doctors’ appointments or grocery shopping. Plus, caregivers are great companions and often turn into good friends so the senior doesn’t feel lonely and can still stay active and social.”

Consider the problem with the recent wave of car crashes in the past three months involving elderly drivers:

Plymouth, MA. (June) A 73-year-old woman faces criminal charges after ramming her minivan into a crowd. She was involved in three previous accidents since turning 70.
Danvers, MA. (June) A 93-year-old man accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and drove his car into a building, injuring a woman and her 1 year old daughter.
Winter Park, FL. (May) A 78-year-old man is accused of leaving the scene after hitting and killing a pedestrian.
Tierra Santa, CA. (April) An 86-year-old woman drives through the front glass window of an office and hits a man who later dies.

“Our reflexes naturally slow with age, and it’s difficult to measure how slow is too slow when driving,” adds Ross. “Some states are considering requiring driving tests for seniors, but driving tests can miss the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s that affect judgment, understanding and memory which cause many of the accidents. So often the family has to recognize it’s time to stop the senior from driving.”

Warning Signs an Older Person's Driving Ability May Be Impaired:

Drives too fast or too slow, brakes often or abruptly changes speed.
Has trouble reading signs, pavement markings, or seeing after dark.
Misjudges distances, frequently gets lost or misses turns.
Has difficulty operating vehicle controls or confuses gas and brake pedals.
Has difficulty making quick moves, is easily startled or fails to notice other vehicles.
Acts agitated, confused, lethargic or anxious
Struggles with left turns

Hire a caregiver who can be a driver and companion. It worked for Anne Worster of Denver, Colorado who hired a caregiver to drive her 96-year-old mom to doctors’ appointments because it was difficult to leave work. “It was great because the caregiver took notes and called me right after the appointment,” says Anna. “I got a full report and it made me feel at ease that I wasn’t sending mom in there alone. Plus, it’s so nice to trust someone to drive mom so I don’t worry about her safety or the safety of anyone else.”

“Children must reassure their elderly parents they can still see friends and be involved in activities even if they can’t drive,” says Ross. “Hiring a caregiver who can be a driver eases some of the conflict in the decision to take away the keys because it preserves the senior’s independence and provides a companion at the same time.”

Senior Helpers
Frank Graff