“By Failing to Prepare, you Prepare to Fail” - Benjamin Franklin

Did you know the first week in December is always Older Driver Safety Awareness Week? While the annual awareness campaign has already passed, many of this year’s topics are year-round concerns. For example, short of an accident, how do you know when an older loved one’s driving is unsafe? What can be done about it? 

While there is no set age when seniors should stop driving, there are warning signs to heed. Let us share with you four areas that family members and friends of older drivers should consider together. 

1. Vision. It is no secret that eyesight diminishes with age. The question is, how much? Updated glasses prescriptions and corrective lenses are critically important when driving, especially if a senior adult has experienced glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. Cutting back on driving at night and in bad weather are two easy ways to reduce vision-related risks. 

2. Hearing. Hearing loss is another normal part of the elder aging process. As hearing declines, however, so does the ability to listen for car horns, sirens, and even noises coming from the senior’s own car. Regular hearing check-ups are strongly recommended, and senior drivers should always wear hearing aids, when applicable, while eliminating unnecessary noise from inside their vehicle.

3. Joint and Muscle Dexterity. With age, joints can stiffen and muscles weaken. Arthritis, for instance, is common among Older Americans and can adversely impact driving whether it is the ability to view a rear blindspot, turn the steering wheel, or brake suddenly. Building strength and flexibility through physical activity is useful, as are certain vehicle modifications such as adding large mirrors and installing low-exertion hand controls for both the gas and brake pedals.

4. Reaction Time and Reflexes. A combination of factors along with normal aging can contribute to delayed reaction times and slower reflexes. Sometimes they are the result of medical conditions like Parkinson’s Disease or a stroke. In any case, the dangers are self-evident when getting behind the wheel. If driving is not entirely ruled out, consider taking steps to limit as many risks as possible, such as planning routes, staying close to home and avoiding traffic.

We know this can be a difficult conversation to have with your senior loved ones, and an even more difficult conversation to have with yourself. Despite the uncomfortableness of the topic, however, it is critical that you start the conversation early. If you need help on this, or any elder care issue, we encourage you not to wait to contact our law firm. Let us help you navigate these challenges as your trusted advocate now, or any time in the future.  

Did you know medical alert systems are critical safety net technologies used by millions of senior adults? With the press of a button on a wearable device, a senior user can alert an emergency operator for help. In a health care crisis for an Older American, every second counts.

This National Medical Alert System Month, we want to help you evaluate whether you need to add this adaptive technology to your lifestyle. Let us share with you ten things to consider when purchasing a medical alert system for yourself or a senior loved one. 

  1. Comfort. It may seem secondary, but comfort and appearance will go a long way towards ensuring a senior loved one wears his or her emergency device as much as possible. There are many options today for them to try on and test to ensure it fits the senior’s lifestyle.
  1. Response Time. How long will it take for an alert company to respond to an emergency signal? Every second counts in a senior adult health crisis. Ask for information from the company and be sure to investigate independent reviews as well. 
  1. Call Center Quality. Medical alert companies will either have in-house emergency operators, or they will outsource the function to a third-party call center. In any case, an alert responder is your senior loved one’s lifeline. The Monitoring Association’s Five Diamond Program is a gold standard certification for properly trained emergency operators. It can be a good litmus test when partnering with an alert company.
  1. Wireless Range. Home-based systems require wearable alert devices to connect remotely to a plug-in central unit. Be sure to determine how far a senior user can go before connectivity issues occur. Are there areas of poor service in the senior’s home? It may be worth exploring on a free trial basis.
  1. Other Locations. If a senior frequently travels or is planning to move to a different location, will the medical alert system continue to work? Some systems may require new equipment, which may also incur more costs.
  1. Installation. Medical alert systems are most effective when they are senior-friendly. Some systems can be self-installed, while others may require a technician and installation fees.
  1. Pricing. Alert systems generally cost between $30 and $90 a month, depending on the type and add-on features. Keep in mind that cheaper is not necessarily better when it comes to the health and well-being of a senior loved one.
  1. Power Backup. A charged backup battery or built-in backup power source for the wearable device and home-base unit are critical, especially for seniors who may forget to charge them or live in areas where electric power outages are common. 
  1. Options. Learn as much as you can about the included options and add-ins. With the rise in technology, alert systems have incorporated wide-ranging add-on options, such as GPS tracking, fall motion sensors, wall buttons, wandering alerts and more. 
  1. Repair and Replacement. Whether purchasing alert equipment or renting it from a service provider, it is best to familiarize yourself with repair and replacement policies and associated costs ahead of time. 

These are just a number of things to consider when choosing the best medical alert system for your loved one. If you have any questions regarding this topic or about the best resources available to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. We are here for you and your family.

We understand that planning for the end of life, a disability or aging can be complicated and emotional. We are here to help you.

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