Older adults

  Population considerations

  • Changes in regulations. Older adults have experienced many changes in driving laws and regulations. Older adults may not be aware of these changes or may have difficulty changing their driving habits (Jett, 2005). 
  • Physical or mental disability. Older adults may have physical limitations that make it difficult to follow traffic signals and signs (Carr, 2000). Physical limitations include hearing, sight and mobility.  They may also have impaired judgment due to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related neurological diseases (Jett, 2005).  Many older adults also take a large amount of medications. Medications can cause impairment in judgment and abilities (Carr, 2000).
  • Need for independence. Many older adults have trouble giving up their ability to drive because it increases their dependence on others.  Many tend to hide their driving impairments from their children and doctors (Jett, 2005).
  • Lack of alternative transportation. Many older adults do not have access to adequate public transportation. Older adults may drive longer than they should because they do not want to be a burden on their families (Jett, 2005).

  Strategies to address these considerations

  • Use familiar settings. It may be helpful to conduct interventions in settings where older adults gather naturally. These include churches, retirement communities, pharmacies, community centers, libraries and adult day care centers.
  • Involve health care providers. Health care providers can help increase adherence to driving regulations.  Questions related to driving can be built into the medical history.
  • Enhance support. Losing the ability to drive is hard for many older adults.  Involving the older adult in any decisions about their driving demonstrates respect for the individual and helps maintain relationships (Jett, 2005). Older adults who cannot drive benefit from increased support from family and friends. When talking about driving cessation, families who are helpful have better outcomes than families who are forceful (Jett, 2005). 
  • Increase transportation options. It is helpful to provide transportation for older adults to common locations such as grocery stores, community centers, pharmacies, health care providers, churches and shopping centers. Older adults can also participate in advocacy for increased public transit.

printer-friendly Print this window